Currency Upheaval Prompts Venezuelan Shopping Frenzy

Venezuelans were jamming stores and gas stations late last week as worries about an overhaul of monetary policies could create financial havoc, preventing even basic shopping.

According to a report in Reuters, shoppers late last week were stocking their homes with food and dry goods, fueling up their gas tanks and withdrawing cash before the measures take place Monday (August 20).  In July inflation reached 82,700 percent in the country, reported Reuters, citing the opposition-run Congress. That resulted in the purchase of basic goods costing a lot of money that is hard to come by. “I came to buy vegetables, but I’m leaving because I’m not going to wait in this line,” said Alicia Ramirez, 38, a business administrator, leaving a supermarket in the western city of Maracaibo, according to the Reuters report. “People are going crazy.” Drivers were also filling up their tanks, worrying about the ability to pay for gas on Monday because there will be no new legal tender that is small enough to purchase a full tank.

The government under President Nicolas Maduro thinks that the new monetary policies will bring more stability to the country, but critics contend it wouldn’t do anything to stop prices from soaring further. They point to inflation, socialist policies that failed and indiscriminate money printing for the problems, reported Reuters. Maduro declared a public holiday for Monday; when the bills are introduced, the lower denominations will exist with the current ones for an undetermined period of time. That could create confusion about using old bills with a face value of 1,000,0000 bolivars to make purchases valued at 10 bolivars in the new denomination, noted the report. “This is going to be complete disaster, we don’t have information,” said Yoleima Manrique, 42, assistant manager of a home appliance store in Caracas, in the report. “It’s going to be crazy for the clients and for us.”



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