The collapse of the oil price will deprive the government of a huge chunk of its foreign revenue. Even before Covid-19, Venezuela was selling its oil at a hefty discount to persuade buyers to run the risk of US sanctions. With oil now trading at about $25 a barrel and the market oversupplied as the world economy shudders to a halt, that oil is virtually worthless. Russ Dallen, head of investment bank Caracas Capital Markets, said it is selling for as little as $3 a barrel.

Gasoline is also starting to run short. “It is essentially not available, and the military has taken over the few gas stations that remain open,” Mr Dallen said.