Deadly rioting and looting erupted across a South American country over the weekend after its president declared the nation’s largest banknote worthless.
The violence began in Venezuela when people realized that Central Bank Venezuela (BCV) had no replacements for the worthless money.
“The BCV is not giving any bills or coins but a receipt saying you deposited your 100 bills,” opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra tweeted on Dec. 17.
The riots began after President Nicholas Maduro declared that the 100 bolivar note was no longer legal tender, The Latin American Herald Tribune reported. Maduro said the note had to go because it was being used by “mafias.”
In December, India’s prime minister made 84 percent of the cash in circulation worthless when he declared that the two largest bills in circulation — the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes — were no longer legal tender.
Venezuela: 77 Percent of Money Instantly Worthless
The 100 bolivar note in Venezuela accounted for 77 percent of the cash in circulation in Venezuela, The South China Morning Post reported. Since most Venezuelans pay for everything in cash, it meant they had no means of buying food.
New coins and bills were scheduled to be available but they never arrived. By Friday rioting had broken out in the city of Ciudad Bolivar and three mining towns, Bloomberg reported. In the town of El Callao, 115 businesses were looted and a 15-year old boy was killed. That forced the governor of Bolivar to call out the national guard.
Citizens had to use smaller bills, which are hard to use and often unavailable. The government has been paying pension benefits in 50 and 20 bolivar notes, but many people cannot find those.
“We are victims of an international sabotage so the bills, which are ready, cannot be shipped to Venezuela,” Maduro told his supporters at a rally on Saturday. The president blamed a supposed conspiracy against his nation for keeping three planes hauling the money from reaching Venezuela.
After the riots, Maduro reversed course and said the 100 bolivar bill would stay in use until Jan. 2, Bloomberg reported.
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