Back when it was introduced, in 2008, we all sensed that the “bolivar fuerte” nickname they used in knocking 3-zeroes off of the old bolivar had rich potential to become ironic in due time. And so it has.
Case in point: the 100-Bs. bill, which is still the highest denomination banknote in Venezuela. At prevailing black-market exchange rates, it’s worth a smidgeon of more or less $3. Thanks to rampant inflation, is the only bolivar ‘fuerte’ bill worth using.
“At the end of July this year, the 100-Bs. bill represented 27% of all banknotes in circulation in comparison to just 3% when the Bolivar Fuerte was launched (back in 2008)…
“…between July 2012 and July of this year the number of 100-Bs. bills in circulation grew 79%, reaching a total of 566 million banknotes (of this denomination).”
In my experience, it’s become quite rare if an ATM machine gives you something other than brand new 100-Bs. banknotes and let’s not forget about the constant lack of available sencillo (low denomination coins and bills).
An interviewee puts the situation in perspective: “Three years ago, paying with a 100 Bs. bill in the bakery for bread, cheese and milk was a problem for the cashier, as she didn’t have change to give you. Now, that same bill only serves you to pay half of that cheese.”
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.