Venezuela may be losing its nickel-a-gallon gas

There aren't many places in the world where one can buy a gallon of gas for the equivalent of a nickel, but, for the time being, Venezuela is one of those places. There the price of gasoline has been frozen for nearly two decades, but the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, says he favors raising prices gradually over three years to help fight the country's economic crisis, The Detroit News reports.

Venezuelans tend to drive cars that aren't fuel efficient because of the low price of gas, and consumption of the fuel reportedly is 40-times higher than in any other Latin American nation. Lucas Davis, a University of California - Berkeley energy specialist, gives some context: "Prices are so cheap in Venezuela that they may make Saudi Arabia and Iran look expensive."

A native Venezuelan who drives a 1975 Ford LTD station wagon says, in Venezuela, "You spend more on liquor than you do on gas."

The government's plan to raise gasoline prices is being sold on Maduro's promise to reinvest some of the money into building schools and homes, but the effects of raising prices should have other positive effects in the country, such as lowering pollution (assuming Venezuelans are willing to buy more fuel-efficient cars) and reducing black-market oil trading and road congestion.

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