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Venezuelans cross border to sell gas to Colombians

July 29, 2008 | 12:53 pm

Venezuelan motorists are crossing the frontier with Colombia to sell gas to their neighbors, making the most of the varying price of oil across Latin America.

These gas-sellers -- or "pimpineros" as they're known -- are taking advantage of the fact that in the border city of San Antonio de Táchira, Venezuela, gas is a whole lot cheaper than on the Colombian side of the border in Cúcuta, where it sells for around US $3.44 a gallon. A story in Reforma states that gas prices in Venezuela are around 7.6 cents a gallon, but other sources say it's more around 12 cents a gallon.

Cheap gas prices in Venezuela mean that those enterprising individuals who cross over to sell the contents of their car tanks can make a good profit. Some are even living off the earnings, according to this report in today's Reforma (in Spanish).

The same kind of thing is happening in Mexico, where gas is much cheaper than in the U.S. This has led to United States citizens crossing over the border into Mexico to fill their tanks. The Dallas Morning News reported in June that Texans were heading across the border to escape gas prices at home, which at the time were around US $4 a gallon.

Today, the cost of oil per gallon in Mexico is about US $2.72 a gallon. In the United States, it's US $3.95 a gallon.

The cost of oil in Latin America varies. But surging fuel prices across the region have ignited inflation throughout Latin America, driving up the cost of food, the price of which was already on the upswing thanks in part to ravenous global demand for its farm products, as we reported in June.

Read more on the Venezuelan cross-border gas sale here.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City