Long lines are an old evil when it comes to banks. It doesn’t matter where you live. However, it’s extremely rare for a bank to make its clients wait between four and six hours to make a deposit. Well, at least that’s what we used to think.

Just a couple of days ago, while I was touring several drugstores in Caracas searching for antibiotics, I found that signs saying “No Bs. 100 bills allowed, only debit cards” were far more common than Christmas offers, if we can truly call them “offers.” When you asked people why they’d put up the sign, they simply replied “Guess how the lines in the banks will get to deposit this.” They had a point.

So, from La Rinconada to Coche, through downtown Caracas all the way to Petare, with all the supermarkets and stores along the Francisco de Miranda avenue –the longest in the city-, the message is the same: we don’t want Bs. 100 bills, come with plastic or packs of Bs. 50 and Bs. 20.

The latter is an odd variation of José José’s classic song.

This isn’t an isolated irony. For example, many shop owners and service providers in Caracas, including those who offer the riskiest means of transportation –Mototaxistas-, prefer to get paid through points-of-sale or electronic transfers.

How does a mototaxista request to get paid through a money transfer?

The guy who took me from Chacao to Hospital de Clínicas Caracas in San Bernardino, explains it: “You add my bank account with your smartphone, you send me the money and then the confirmation number. Two thousand, and I won’t take cash until next week, when the new bills are out.”

Technology to the rescue in a depreciated economy. Post-apocalyptic.

Long lines are a good place to meet people. Relationships spring up in our country while people wait in front of a bakery. Two or three hours waiting for bread are enough for people to fall in love

Long lines are a good place to meet people. Relationships spring up in our country while people wait in front of a bakery. Two or three hours waiting for bread are enough for people to fall in love. The contrary’s also posible, with stories of women cutting the face of a vivo who wants to get ahead in the line, or unsavory characters who take over the first hundred spots in the queue at gunpoint.

I met a real heroine in the line before Banco de Venezuela’s headquarters at the Universidad avenue. There so much people that the entire side of the building going up to the Plaza Bolívar was packed people trying to deposit their Bs. 100 bills. Feeling brave, I pulled out my phone to take pictures. I was immediately approached by some guards who curtly told me to desist and leave before they put me in jail.

The woman in question angrily yelled “¡Coño! Leave the guy alone. Do you think we’re invisible? The only thing that’s invisible here is money and the coherence of this piece-of-crap government.” They left me alone after that.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve read that street peddlers are offering now to take your 100 bill for 80 bolivares right now, dont waste your time in a queue.

    That at the end of those networks of buhoneros there is some connected guys making a killing is, well, I would bet you 100 .. €

  2. The new bills are not available. Is this possibly a trick on the government’s part to get all the money out of circulation? When the people have no money, they will depend on the government for everything needed to stay alive. Remember you are dealing with communists here, not rational people. Castro pulled this trick in 1961.

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