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MARACAIBO/PUNTO FIJO (Reuters) - Soldiers oversaw rationing of gasoline at service stations in several parts of Venezuela on Sunday as worsening fuel shortages forced angry drivers to wait for hours to fill their tanks, prompting protests in some areas.
Venezuela, whose economy is reeling from a five-year recession amid a prolonged political crisis, saw long lines of vehicles appear at services stations in several regions this week after a shutdown at the OPEC nation’s second-largest refinery.
Shortages - US - Sanctions - Venezuelan - State
Shortages have been exacerbated by tough U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) in January, which have slashed crude oil exports and imports of refined fuels.
Washington recognized opposition head Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader after he invoked the constitution in January to declare an interim presidency, saying President Nicolas Maduro rigged last year’s election.
Maduro - Guaido - US - Puppet - Washington
Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet and says Washington wants to control Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world. Dozens of people have been killed in political protests this year.
In the western city of San Cristóbal, close to the Colombian border, National Guard soldiers in anti-riot gear limited gasoline sales to 40 liters (10.6 gallons) per vehicle, witnesses said - roughly equivalent to a full tank on a compact vehicle.
Residents - Streets - Barriers - Branches - Parts
Angry residents blocked streets with metal barriers, rubbish and branches in some parts of the city. At some gasoline stations, people said they had been waiting days for fuel.
“How can a country function like this?” asked Antonio Tamariz, 58, who said he had waited for days for fuel to drive his truck back to his farm. “No one has explained why there are so many lines for gasoline. I think the government is losing control of this.”
Venezuela - Information - Ministry - Media - Enquiries
Venezuela’s Information Ministry - which handles media enquiries for the government - did not respond to requests for comment.
Oil Minister Manuel...
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