Venezuela to remove the 100-bolivar note from circulation | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 11.12.2016
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Venezuela to remove the 100-bolivar note from circulation

The 100-bolivar bank note will be removed from circulation in Venezuela on Wednesday. The Venezuelan government promised six much larger notes in coming days.

Stuck in an economic crisis and facing rampant inflation, the Venezuelan government announced Sunday it would pull its largest bill from circulation on Wednesday.

The 100-bolivar note, which is worth approximately two cents, will be replaced by much larger bank notes. Venezuelans will have 10 days after the 100-bolivar bill is removed from circulation to exchange the notes at the central bank. In the wake of the 100-bolivar note's demise, six bank notes worth between 500 and 20,000 bolivars will be made available, and three new coins. One US dollar can buy up to 4,400 bolivars on the black market.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the move was necessary as international mafias kept the notes in Colombian and Brazilian cities. Maduro demanded "all land, air and sea possibilities closed immediately so that they do not return those notes that were taken," on his television show "Contact with Maduro."

Critics were quick to denounce the decision, saying Maduro should fight against the use of contraband bills on the Colombia-Venezuela border, and that there was no realistic way for Venezuelans to exchange 100-bolivar bills currently in circulation within the allotted time. Data from the central bank showed there were more than six billion 100-bolivar notes in circulation in November, which is about 48 percent of all bills and coins in use.

"When ineptitude governs! Who would possibly think of doing something like this in December amid all our problems?" said two-time opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles on Twitter.

Unprecedented inflation

No official data exists for inflation in Venezuela in 2016, but economic consultants Ecoanalitica estimates annual inflation in 2016 is more than 500 percent. The Venezuelan currency has fallen 55 percent against the US dollar on the black market in November.

Paying for simple items in the oil-rich company - often after waiting in lines that can last for hours - requires a large sack of bills in order to pay for whatever may be needed. But getting cash has proven difficult in recent months and credit card machines have suffered many problems, forcing many businesses to ask customers to pay by bank transfer.

kbd/kl (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)