RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – (EFE) Inhabitants of the towns of El Callao and Guasipati in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar, bordering Brazil, protested on Monday against the refusal of stores to receive 50,000 bolivar bills, the highest denomination until March and today equivalent to less than one cent of a dollar.
El Callao, which has been the scene of riots in previous years due to issues related to cash, was the center of looting attempts today, according to reports in social networks by some opponents, due to the veto placed on the banknote which, like others, has lost its value amidst inflation, which up to April accumulated 240.5%, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Finance.
The former deputy for the state of Bolivar, the opposition Américo De Grazia, said in his Twitter account that stores were not accepting “the 50,000 bills” of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), which is not even enough to pay for transportation, but dollars and gold.
De Grazia accompanied the messages with several videos in which a large group of people can be seen trying to push a vehicle and shouting, while in another one dozens of people are seen crowded in front of a business of which looting is denounced.
For its part, the opposition party La Causa R said through the same social network that on Sunday in the town known as El Manteco, also located in the state of Bolivar, a similar situation also occurred.
“The reason? They do not accept 50,000 bolivar bills and the authorities are conspicuous by their absence. This has generated looting due to the impossibility of buying food”, the party assured.
At the moment, the authorities have not pronounced themselves on what is happening in the area.
Venezuela has been facing since 2017 hyperinflation that has pulverized the salary and the purchasing power of its inhabitants.
In the midst of this context, the Government announced a monetary reconversion in August 2018 by ordering the elimination of five zeros from the national currency, which was then called bolivar fuerte and went by the surname of “sovereign”.
Since then, the BCV has twice expanded the monetary cone.
The last time occurred last March when the issuing entity announced the incorporation of 200,000, 500,000 and 1,000,000 bolivar bills, the latter equivalent to 52 cents of a dollar at that time and today, less than 30 cents.
And previously, it happened in June 2019 when it incorporated the 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 bolivar bills, then equivalent to 1.62; 3.25 and 8.14 dollars, respectively.
But the Venezuelan currency had already faced a reconversion process before. In 2008, the then President Hugo Chávez had launched another monetary reconversion process that removed three zeros from the currency, thus changing its name to bolívar fuerte.
In other words, the current currency, officially called bolivar soberano, has had eight zeros amputated.