Photo: Caraota Digital retrieved.

The bolívar is on the brink of extinction.

Nobody talks about bolivars anymore. Now it’s either “soberanos” (to highlight the difference with the monetary cone ruling until August, 20) or dollars. Soberanos are still used for day-to-day, low-cost operations, but almost every other transaction is dollarized. Purchase agreements for real estate and vehicles are paid in dollars, along with many professional services (like medical, dental and veterinary consultations), repairs for vehicles and home appliances, and even works of art; many retailers discard any currency except greenbacks and there’s no way to keep employees, unless part of the salary is in Benjamins. Luggage carriers ask for tips in dollars, as do manicurists and valets, restaurants and all kinds of businesses.

But the biggest outrage is saved for the stone-faced greed of public service providers, which are strictly State-run, and they demand dollars in addition to their normal fees (in soberanos), for poor-quality service. Cities and towns in Venezuela suffer extended blackouts which prevent people from working, you all know this. What’s not that known is that, when consumers report power outages, they’re visited a long while later by a technician from the State-run electric company. In his speech, you learn that a key part of the system is damaged… and it takes thousands of dollar to be fixed. Like that, in your face. Shamelessly.

Soberanos are still used for day-to-day, low-cost operations, but almost every other transaction is dollarized.

The same applies for water supply. The tanker trucks that replenish water at apartment buildings demand dollars, a fee that increases from one week to another. Also in dollars flowing through the alleys of corruption are the payments that citizens make to get their passports, because they can’t wait for the socialist bureaucracy to respond. We’re talking about formal papers, issued by the State which can, however, be processed only after steep commissions.

Essentially, this is the privatization of public services (allegedly provided by the State, with large subsidies). Venezuelans pay for collapsed public services in prices subjected to wild fluctuations, in a currency that’s not the one established in 1879, with Bolívar’s visage.

In other words, they pay in gold and greens.

“You know what? I have to pay in dollars at the repair shop to get my car back.” That’s how Marianella Salazar’s advert on Instagram begins. Expelled in August 2017 from the radio, where she had a successful decade-long career, Salazar has turned social media into her new platform. Recently, she posted an ad for Maru Consign (a retailer of second-hand luxury items), where she appears in front of her open closet. “So I’m going to take one of these purses and I’ll give it to Maru Consign. This one’s Chanel! Done!”

Marianella’s advert, undoubtedly done by herself, as she’s well aware of the nation’s situation, is a metaphor for the decapitalization of a hostage country, forced to pawn off everything it owns. By the way, street, police and guerrilla crime ditched bolivars a long time ago. Even gangsters feel insulted if they’re given our national currency, especially soberanos, that poor reflection of the Weimar mark. They only want dollars. Have you ever seen a sanctioned official whose frozen accounts are in Venezuelan banks?

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21 COMMENTS

    • You’re right. Although true to some extent, perhaps for some services/places in Caracas, this post is grossly exaggerated–where I live virtually NO ONE has/pays in $.

        • This is first hand experience so grain of salt recommended.
          It really depends on which region of the country you are talking about, for example, on the west (the border with Colombia) pesos are used to trade even candies, and the currency is slowly creeping it’s way from Tachira and west Merida upwards, it’s more than likely that given time it reaches common use on more central states.
          Also, it’s pretty common to see people selling $ on small amounts (<100) on messaging networks, from my experience this is more used as a "hey we'll hold this money for a few days and then use it on something else" than some saving measure.
          It would be interesting to know how much cash currency is currently circulating on the country though (not that we will ever get that information).

    • Don’t worry Bill they won’t delete your comment even if you explain the entire message. Maybe. Your still snipping away at the comments section Mr. Toro sir!! And not just poeta although he flares up and down and his rants increase and decrease in magnitude, we all know what he’s going to say and we can glance past the repetitive and hateful parts if we feel the need can’t we? Now you must admit he has toned it down several notches an it’s not nearly the screaming the same shit over and over and we will let him know when he degrades there again but he says some interesting shit now and again, and I may be the only one reading before you erase it but I wonder about poeta… What made him so angry toward Venezuela. You must have barely made it out of here man. And you know most of the time he is NOT WRONG. And I’m sorry if I yelled Mr Toro Sir but Isn’t there, shouldn’t there be freedoms of speech? If not then doesn’t that make the editors a bit like the soup nazi in Seinfeld? You got to spell out the rules to your living room and decide who you are going to let visit and what they can and can’t say, I get the drill. Your gonna lose commenters either way Mr Toro sir. You can’t play favorites to your commenters comments and expect this to be a warm fuzzy space where we can’t piss of the editor or else AND be considered a serious comments section. Let’s have a show of hands what makes CC so cool? I like it especially because it’s Venezuela in English and I miss those daily briefings Naky. I miss ulamog I miss m Rubio I miss lots of guys that seemed to have inside information and wise words and have disappeared. I think your censorship policy is going to backfire on you Mr. Toro Sir, I say humbley as the son of a very humble editor.

  1. We used to send dollars in, buried in MEGO-esque professional journals (in Polish/Czech/Russian) and book bindings. Always something that the thieves in customs would happily overlook. Its something I learned from the comedian Chris Rock. “Hide your money in books, because ________ don’t read!”

    We used to hide large bills (always carry-on) in with us prior to 2014 inside fake sunscreen, enema bottles and “hemorrhoid cream” tubes. Apparently Preparation H isn’t something unknown anywhere. It was never given a second look in customs. The thieves in customs (Maiquetía) may have gotten the small amount of US bills in my wallet during their shakedown, but as long as they got their golden egg of $50, they always missed the goose that laid it.

    I have also discovered that laying a filthy pair of underwear* on top of your clothes in your luggage typically gets a sneer and only the quickest of examinations before you are passed through.

    *fake. easily purchased online. $15.88 at Walmart

    • In 1969 I was working in Bucharest. When dollars were offered to the hotel staff to ensure good service they were declined, Romanians saying “we can’t buy anything, but would you please give us your underwear when you leave?” After an extended stay I departed. I had been treated like royalty so gave all my underwear and shirts to hotel staff who received my used, but clean, clothes as if they were gold bullion.

  2. I know a guy you pay 50 bucks and he meets you coming off the plane and helps you carry your luggage and fill out your forms and fast tracks you through vip gates and customs and security where they actually looked at me and then looked away from their X-ray screens as if to tell me: you paid the vip price mister. I will compromise my integrity as a customs agent for a portion of 50 dollars. Then he helps you out to the car and you pay him. Hell u gave him 100 bucks last time I came through he put on such a good show!! That’s what I call great service!!

    Oh and Mr Toro sir I just remembered the other brazillian Marc that disagreed with you over brazillian election results. I think it all started there. They really beat you up that day and you took the bait. I enjoyed reading your comments. When you get involved but I see what’s happened here. You can’t defend socialism anymore. Everyone here in Venezuela is proof of that. It’s ruined us as a culture. If it’s not socialisms fault then what should we change? Why won’t you talk about important things. The only way we’re going to get some change is if we get riled up and do something about it.

  3. “The only way we’re going to get some change is if we get riled up and do something about it.”
    I always find your comments honest and fair Marc , especially seeing as your living in paradise gone wrong , trying to give your family a decent life.

  4. Según lo que entiendo el Jóse Rodríguez promedio, el equivalente al Average Joe gringo,
    vive no en Caracas o Valencia o en Maracaibo sino en una ciudad de unos 100000 o 200000 habitantes.
    Si acaso, mal terminó bachillerato y mal. El también? Lo dudo

    Yo conozco muchos venezolanos que luchan cada día y que me cuentan que para tal o cual operación tuvieron que pagarlo en dólares. Aun así y aunque vivo en el extranjero tengo la fuerte impresión de que ellos, por más dura que tengan la vida, están mejor que el promedio, que José Rodríguez.

    Sabes cuántos venezolanos que viven en Quíbor o El Furrial y no han ido a la universidad o tienen un negocio más o menos eficiente pueden pagar en dólares?

    El promedio venezolano vive en una ciudad y la ciudad, repito, no es Caracas, Valencia o Maracaibo. Es Quíbor, El Furrial.

  5. Ms. Soccoro, you make a point that has been on my mind since I first came into contact with chavismo. For all its grandiose rhetoric it has been responsible for the wholesale privatizing of the most basic public services. First it was security (everyone has private security, because the cops are the crooks or look the other way around crooks), then the army and GN, then electricity and water, then education, the top flight chavistas have access to excellent hospitals on their private insurance plans, now: you name it, it has a price, fixed by an informal, unregulated market, from access to passports to the basic necessities of life. The public sector has adopted the practices of monopoly capitalism, “capitalism salvaje”, as Chavez put it. He made that flourish at unprecedented levels in Venezuela- the most predatory form of free-market: that controlled by monopolies, gangs and cartels. And since then, so called revolutionaries are getting rich on the suffering of others, in the running of their “businesses” and in the pursuit of dollars.

    • Cucklehead: “…the most predatory form of free-market: that controlled by monopolies, gangs and cartels.” Let me untwist that useful rhetoric for you; no market controlled by monopolies, gangs or cartels is free. In the rational world outside of establishment marxism, capitalism and free-marketism are different and distinct concepts, but never mind any truth just stick with your indoctrination.

      • May I recommend: exercise, fresh air, getting out, gratitude for the good things in your life, less obsessing about stuff and people, and less time on the internet.

        None of those things is Marxist, so why not?

      • His point is that government services are “privatized”, i.e. have to be bought by bribery. That’s reality, as you yourself are aware.

      • By free market he means unregulated by any independent institutions and run with impunity. It’s a vulgar system that has been purposely put in place. We all agree that “free markets” are regulated and function under the rule of law. No business in a functioning capitalist society is allowed to do whatever it wants.

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