Venezuela's Central Bank took delivery of yet a new batch of bigger denomination banknotes on Tuesday, but the bills where nowhere public to be seen (and spent) as popular unrest mounts, it was reported on Tuesday.
Bills of denominations of up to 20,000 bolivars are being brought in by President Nicolas Maduro's regime to replace 100-bolivar notes he wants to scrap, claiming they were being used by mafias along the border.
Maduro had promised that the new money would be available from December 15. Seven hundred and ten crates of 500-bolivar notes have just arrived from Stockholm, said Central Bank vice president Jose Khan on state television. But the truth in the street is a totally different thing, since nobody has been able to see, touch and let alone use the new paper money.
The government's announcement that the 100-bolivar notes would suddenly no longer be legal tender provoked long lines of people trying to change them, and looting and rioting in some areas, resulting in four deaths, which forced the president to extend until January 2 the use of the 100-bolivar bills, each of which is worth 15 US cents at the highest official exchange rate (US$ 0,02 according to black market operators).
The 100-bolivar bills represent more than three-quarters of the money being used in Venezuela. The central bank estimates that nearly 100 million 500-bolivar banknotes should be delivered soon, but experts are skeptical this would be enough, since the bills that have arrived represent a little more than five percent of what is being withdrawn from circulation.