Bachaqueo chronicles

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BachacosTwo items today on the smuggling of gasoline from Venezuela to Colombia – commonly known as bachaqueo. Both are in Spanish.

This first-person account by Colombian journalist Sinar Alvarado is a must-read. Alvarado takes us to the back roads on both sides of the border to give us a real sense of the “business” and the people in it. Looming in the background is the presence of the wayuu, the original inhabitants of this dry and forbidding land. The money quote:

“Pero salirse no es fácil. El problema de Pacho y Rafa es el mismo de tantos otros: ni siquiera terminaron el bachillerato. Esta zona, ahora dominada por las multinacionales del carbón, solo ofrece oportunidades a unos pocos, y hay que estar preparado. El contrabando es la tabla que ha salvado a muchos del naufragio. La Paz es solo un caso, el prototipo que refleja la situación de muchos pueblos del Caribe colombiano: allí hay un 80 % de desempleo, y tres cuartos de la población vive de la gasolina. El 58 % de los hombres que se dedican al contrabando no tienen formación para aspirar a un trabajo bien remunerado.

Pacho suspende un momento la carga de su carro para vender un poco de gasolina a un cliente que acaba de llegar. Pacho recibe el billete y llena el carro con una pimpina. En la última maniobra derrama un poco de líquido y reacciona doblando la manguera. Parece que en ese momento, cuando mira la mancha de gasolina en el suelo, surge la reflexión:

—Este negocio no se acaba nunca, primo. En Venezuela esto es agua, y acá es oro.”

The article is long, but well worth a read.

The flip side is this little tidbit from Noticia Al Día. Eveling Trejo, the mayor of Maracaibo, is A-OK with gasoline rationing chips for people on this side of the border …!

I don’t know what to think about this. If she really feels this way, she’s certainly wrong. If she doesn’t, then she’s feeding the populist machine that is destroying our country – for what exactly? Either way, she is an embarassment. It’s hard to imagine how “el chip” is stopping Chano and the other bachaqueros that Alvarado spent time with.

(HT: Richard y Andrés)

1 COMMENT

  1. The crónica is excellent. I highly recommend it to others for a good weekend read. It’s very interesting to see how the business is run on the ground. Also, a part of me that’s malpensado, can’t help but thinking that those complex distribution routes must be being used in the inverse sense for another substance. It’s probably controlled by the guerrilleros that feature at one point, but one never knows

    • The new trend is to pay cocaine with gasoline because drug producers can’t hide cash due to Colombian regulations. They mix inexpensive Venezuelan gasoline with existing Colombian produced and sell it through legal gas stations which now allows them to legally declare the income. Meanwhile, the initial gas seller who now owns cocaine just goes by the border back to Venezuela and export the drug to the world. Imagine buying gasoline at Venezuelan prices exchange it for cocaine and then selling it at international market price in hard $. The ROI is almost infinite so there is plenty of money to bribe border police, gas dispensers or “bomberos”, and any other authority that might gives you a hard time for you business.
      Its a matter of time for the new border patrol to get into “business”, there is no way you cant resist getting a little bit more than minimum wage.

  2. New regulations imposed by the Venezuelan government restrict vacationers planning trips to Florida, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru to a $700 spending limit and $300 cash.

    What the fuck?

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