Venezuelans braced for the introduction of the Bolivar Soberno (Bs. S.) this Monday, a new currency that is expected to operate alongside the Bolivar Fuerte (Bs.), as well as an historic increase to gas prices. Both measures are scheduled to take place this coming Monday, August 20.
Social media users reported long lines at gas stations throughout the country, as drivers sought to fill up their tanks one last time at current prices, which are the lowest on the planet.
The video below shows a long line of vehicles at a gas station somewhere in the Sucre municipality of Miranda state:
Cody Weddle, a freelance journalist currently in Venezuela, posted the following message on Twitter this afternoon:
Earlier this week, Maduro announced that he was going to increase gas prices “to international levels”, and that anyone who has registered their vehicle to their PSUV-issued carnet de la patria [Motherland I.D.] would receive a direct subsidy. Maduro did not provide any concrete details on the measure, other that it would come into effect on Monday.
According to El Nacional, there were long lines at gas stations in Valencia, Carabobo state as well, where one frustrated driver blamed the near total lack of information about the gas increase for the state of affairs. She told the newspaper:
This line is simply because there’s no information. These are the types of situations created by improvisation. When there’s no information on which you can make decisions, well, then this happens. Everyone is desperate.
Today’s commotion was also the result of the fact that the roll-out of the Bolivar Soberano will be facilitated by the fact that Maduro has decreed August 20 a holiday, meaning that banks and most businesses will be closed.
Electronic banking systems, including ATMs and point-of-sale machines, will stop working starting on Sunday at 6:00 PM for an unknown period of time to allow the country’s banks to implement the new currency system.
Family Basket Price Jumps 80.2% in July
The price of the family basket–a measure of 60 everyday foodstuffs and necessities–jumped 80.2% in July from the previous month to Bs. 295,821,795.32. The figure represents the amount of money a family of five needs to meet of all their nutritional and living necessities for one month.
The price of the family basket is compiled each month by the Centro de Documentación y Análisis Social para los Trabajadores [Centre for Social Documentation and Analysis for Workers] (CENDAS).
According to CENDAS, virtually nothing in the country costs less than Bs. 1,000,000, and that many families struggle to afford even the food boxes that are sometimes put together by supermarkets containing four of five products, with each box costing as much as Bs. 5,000,000.
The cost of the family basket puts it well beyond the reach of the average Venezuelan family. At the current price, a Venezuelan family of five needs to earn Bs. 9,860,727 per day to meet its most basic needs, which is more than the minimum monthly salary.
To meet its monthly needs, a Venezuelan family of five would have to have earned 98 times the minimum monthly salary in July.
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