Venezuela’s private banks have yet to received the new paper notes that were scheduled to begin circulating today. Aside from complicating the planned roll-out of the new bills – which was scheduled to begin today – the lack of new bills adds even more chaos to the transition away from the Bs. 100 bill, which becomes obsolete starting tomorrow.
Also starting tomorrow, banks will not be able to accept deposits of Bs. 100 bills. Anyone who was unable to deposit their bills into a bank account over the last two business days will have until December 20 to exchange the old bills for new ones, but only at the Central Bank offices in Caracas and Maracaibo.
In all, only thirty booths at the Central Bank offices in Maracaibo and Caracas will be made available to service the entirety of the country. Maduro made the announcement earlier today by saying:
We are going to make thirty booths available at theBanco Central de Venezuela to allow every legal and natural person to exchange their Bs. 100 bills.
While Maduro had previously announced that Venezuelans would have until December 25 to exchange their Bs. 100 bills for new bills, he made a surprise announcement this evening saying that he was shortening the exchange period to December 20. He did not provide an explanation for the change.
El Nacional reports that banks are also concerned about the fact that their ATM machines have not been properly calibrated to work with the new bills.
The removal of the Bs. 100 bill from circulation has shocked the country, not only for the minuscule time frame – just 72 hours – but also because it was by far the most popular bill in circulation, making up approximately 77.15% of all paper bills used in transactions in November.
UNT Deputies Skip Vote, Widen Split In Opposition
The National Assembly met today to appoint new rectors to the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), a wholly symbolic gesture given the fact that the country’s top court already appointed the rectors on Wednesday. However, the opposition-controlled legislature hoped to assert its existence and highlight the Maduro regime’s continued contempt for the legislative branch through the appointing of the rectors today.
However, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) failed to carry out even this symbolic gesture, given the fact that it was three votes shy of passing the resolution appointing the CNE rectors.
Only one of the deputies has spoken publicly about his absence: William Barrientos. Through his Twitter account, Barrientos said:
I came to Maracaibo on Wednesday afternoon because my mother is sick, and I was sure that I would return to the National Assembly on Thursday. My mother is still sick. I am very sorry to have missed today’s session.
The offending deputies, all members of the Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) opposition party, are Adolfo Superlano, William Barrientos and Ricardo Fernandez. It is not clear at this time why the three deputies were not available to vote today at the National Assembly, leaving many to speculate that the party was deliberately trying to sabotage MUD efforts at the National Assembly.
UNT was quick to respond to the rumours, saying:
The [MUD] does not have a single owner, nor will it ever. [The MUD] is made up of parties that, without a doubt, think differently, but are committed to a single goal: unity, which is something we share and defend.
The party also said that it would “sanction” the three deputies over today’s incident.
Maduro Extends Colombia Border Closure for 72 Hours
During a televised speech that aired this evening, Maduro extended the closure along the border with Colombia for another 72 hours.
The national government has argued that the reason for the closure is to combat organized crime groups that are working across the border in Colombia to undermine the Venezuelan currency.
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