The hallaca is the Venezuelan holiday food par excellence. The staple is a ubiquitous fixture in Venezuelan homes all throughout the month of December; so central to the holiday experience is the hallaca that a Christmas eve dinner cannot be said to be complete without one. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Venezuelan families typically gather to make dozens of hallacas – ideally enough to last into the first weeks of the new year. The continued crisis in the country has affected every facet of life in Venezuela, including the tradition that is making hallacas.
El Nacional published an article today in which it points out that a Venezuelan family earning the minimum monthly salary needs to save for at least four months in order to make 50 hallacas. The newspaper estimates that the cost of buying the ingredients for 50 to 60 hallacas is at least Bs. 90,000, well beyond the Bs. 27,092.60 that a worker earning the minimum salary earns in one month.
The same article points out the difficulties in even planning for the purchasing of the ingredients for hallacas, which include staples such as corn flour, chicken and various vegetables. According to El Nacional, the price of these basic goods is now on average doubling every 48 hours, and have gone up in price an average of Bs. 40,000 since November.
A shopper at the Quinta Crespo market in Caracas told the newspaper:
One month ago, you could find beef at Bs. 4,200; now, from one day to the next, it’s Bs. 7,000. I made all of my calculations at Bs. 4,200. Can you believe this?
Reporters overheard one man at the market telling another:
At this time last year, I had everything figured out about the hallacas for the [dinners of the] 24th and the 31st, but we don’t even know what we’ll do this year. We can’t do it like this.
The same article also includes a quote from a woman who summarized her family’s feeling about the hallaca tradition within the context of the ongoing crisis:
You try to make hallacas because it’s tradition. It’s the only treat we can give ourselves. But, truth be told, [I] don’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like it’s December, and I don’t feel like going out and buying [ingredients].
New Bills Have Arrived, Not Yet Hit Streets; More Incomming
After missing the December 15 deadline for having the new set of coins and paper bills begin circulating in the country, the national government has announced that two shipments of the new Bs. 500 bills have arrived in the country, totaling 11 million individuals bills. A third shipment is expected to arrive on December 26.
The announcement of the arrival of the bills was made by Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) vice-president Jose Khan, who said:
We expect that the third shipment of Bs. 500 bills containing 75 million units will arrive on December 26, and by 29th of this month we also expect to receive a considerable amount.
On December 4, the BCV announced that it would be replacing all bills currently in circulation with six new notes: Bs. 500, Bs. 1,000, Bs. 2,000, Bs. 5,000, Bs. 10,000 and Bs. 20,000. The original timetable called for the new bills to begin circulating on December 15th, but they have yet to hit the streets.
Ford Suspends Operations Until April
The Ford Motor Company has suspended all production in Venezuela until April of 2017, according to a press release by the company yesterday. The measure will affect approximately 2,000 workers at the assembly plant in Valencia, Carabobo state.
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