People freak out when they perceive a threat. Hiking gas prices 30-100% overnight is a significant threat whether you own a car or not because everyone and everything has to be transported by some mode of gas-fueled transportation because teleportation doesn’t exist yet, unfortunately. When moving things becomes more expensive, all the prices go up, the cost of living goes up, but usually incomes stay the same or drop.
This is what happened in Ecuador today — the gas prices hike — and now everyone is on edge. The day began with a transportation strike. So, most weren’t able to get to work unless they were lucky enough to get a ride from a friend or the entrepreneurial unofficial taxis and motorcycles charging a hiked fee for the day. Tensions have risen as the day progressed and the president declared that the new prices are here to stay. There are always ne’er-do-wells just waiting for the chance to cause a ruckus and this is it. As evening falls, most are hurrying home as quickly as they can because tires have been stacked and some have already been set on fire, roads have been barricaded, and police are working overtime because demonstrations have devolved to rioting and looting in the bigger cities. Someone said, “It’s starting to look like Venezuela out there.” Well, yes, we’re seeing the most extreme scenes. That’s how news stations get their viewers.
So, why would a president, who has taken great strides in stabilizing the government make such a bad decision?
You can find the details in any non-Ecuadorian news source. Here are the broad strokes: In an effort to get the nation out of debt, President Moreno eliminated the gas subsidy his predecessor put in place that cost $1.3 billion a year. I think that’s a good move, even if it’s painful to adjust for a while. It’s better than raising taxes. And Ecuador still has some of the lowest gas prices in Latin America. Definitely cheaper than California’s current prices. Of course, the incomes are much lower here.
So, please, pray for Ecuador during this adjustment period, that people would be able to see the far-reaching benefit, that peace and common sense would prevail, and that everyone will make it home safely.