In a surprise move, Maduro announced today that the Bs. 100 bill would go out of circulation in 72 hours, giving the most common bill in Venezuelan wallets three days left before it comes obsolete.
Maduro made the announcement while giving a televised speech, saying:
We’re going to eliminate the contraband of bills that comes from Cucuta [Colombia]. They won’t continue to loot the country.
While it’s not entirely clear what Maduro’s intentions are in removing the bill from circulation, his comments are consistent with the government’s official stance on the country’s economy crisis: that a cabal of Venezuela’s enemies, including currency speculators in Cucuta, Colombia, are working day and night to undermine the Bolivar.
Maduro also said that anyone with Bs. 100 bills would be able to trade them in at banks for the new set of bills which is supposed to start coming into circulation on December 15. Alternatively, people will also be able to simply deposit the bills into their bank accounts.
The surprise announcement comes as Maduro is set to introduce a new economic emergency decree, a measure that will allow him to rule by decree as he has for the past year. Maduro spoke on the necessity of the decree, saying:
The greatest challenge facing our peoples and the socialism of the 21st century [another name for the Bolivarian Revolution] is the development of a new economic model that isn’t an imitation of state capitalism nor an imitation of neoliberalism dressed up as socialism.
Economist: Removing Bills From Circulation Will Solve Nothing
National Assembly opposition deputy and economist Jose Guerra reacted to the news on the death of the Bs. 100 bill by saying that it would achieve little, particularly if the purpose of the measure is to thwart the illegal trade of Venezuelan currency through Colombia.
This won’t solve the problem, because if they [the currency speculators] took out the Bs. 100, now they will take out the Bs. 500 bills. Hopefully the government will fix this measure so that it will be applied in a scheduled and coordinated manner with the banks to avoid people from sprinting [to the banks] to change their bills.
Maduro Speaks on Kreisel Case, Compares Himself to Saint Nicolas
During the same speech, Maduro spoke on the case of the Kreisel, a toy company from which the national government “decommissioned” nearly four million toys earlier this week with the intention of selling them to poor families around the country. Maduro suggested that the company would be taken over by the government for allegedly hoarding toys, and called its owners “criminals”.
Maduro also implied that divine intervention played a part in the Kreisel case, saying:
Thanks to our God – could it be? – I had announced that we had all of the toys ready for our children, and during a battle during these past few days William Contreras [the head of the agency that decommissioned the toys], the director of SUNDDE, called me and said: “Look, President, I’ve found something here…” (…) illegal hoarding of four million toys. So, the children will have their toys for sure thanks to the law. We got reinforcements from Baby Jesus [the Venezuelan equivalent of Santa Claus].
Taking the analogy further, Maduro referred to himself as “Saint Nicolas”, saying:
Don’t write letters to Santa Claus because you won’t get any toys (…) write them to Baby Jesus, or worst case scenario, to Saint Nicolas [referring to himself].
We’ll have Christmas with Saint Nicolas – but he doesn’t have a beard, he has a mustache.
The toys taken from Kreisel will be sold at subsidized prices through the CLAP distribution network.
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