In 2022 Brazil, filling up one’s tank with gas has become a luxury pursuit. Gasoline prices have climbed by 27 percent over the past year. And diesel? Over 50 percent. A standard tank of gas now costs around one-third of Brazil’s minimum wage.
Amid a spiral of inflation, market uncertainty, increased inequality, and mounting hunger, Brazilian families are now being forced to pick and choose between purchases that were once seen as basic. The budget for a weekly grocery shop could be affected by an urgent need to visit the doctor. And once the family car’s tank empties, all bets are off.
Earlier this year, Brazilians living in border regions were seen nicking across to Paraguay and Argentina just to get gas. Meanwhile, counterfeit petrol has become a common occurrence on the triple border with Peru and Colombia, in the western Amazon.
The purchasing power of the average Brazilian is waning on a daily basis — and fuel can be a real killer in this process. Beyond the eye-watering rise in costs to fill the tanks of conventional cars, hikes to diesel have broad ripple effects on all sorts of consumer prices.
Public transport, for instance, runs on diesel. As do the countless trucks and lorries that transport the overwhelming majority of Brazilian cargo. As logistics costs rise, so do those of related goods and services.
The October election is just around the corner, and President Jair Bolsonaro is fully aware of the damage that current economic conditions may cause to his chances of winning a second term. As far as fuels are concerned, he has sought to push the blame onto state governors and even government-controlled oil and gas company Petrobras. But he can’t keep passing the buck forever.