Photo: People queue outside Venezuela’s Central Bank
As Venezuela went into an upheaval and protests and looting spread across the country, President Nicolas Maduro announced that withdrawal of the 100-bolivar notes would be delayed till January 2, reports BBC.
Unlike Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Venezuela President chose not to press on with demonetization drive, though earlier he had almost parroted Modi’s argument that 100-boliver notes were being hoarded and demonetization had become necessary to get rid of corruption.
In a national broadcast, Maduro claimed his country had been the victim of international sabotage, which had prevented new 500-bolivar currency notes arriving in time.
A critical difference between the response of Indian people and the Venezuelans to demonetization was that while in India people mostly remained calm the Venezuelans marched on the street in protest. The causes of the difference could be subject of research for social scientists.
On Thursday Maduro had held up a new 500 bolivar bill on his television show promising new banknotes would soon be in wide circulation. He had also offered to temporarily cut sales tax for credit card transactions.
Following his announcement, Venezuelans waited in lines all week to deposit their cash while shopkeepers put up signs saying 100-bolivar bills would no longer be accepted.
Police put down looting near a bank building in the western city of Maracaibo with several arrests. Young men marched down the street after growing tired of waiting outside the bank to turn in their money. They shouted and waved their useless 100-bolivar bills in the air, then turned and ran as police in full riot gear began firing tear gas shells.
Mobs looted several businesses in the remote eastern state of Bolivar. In total, authorities said there were protests and looting in six cities, leading to 32 people being detained and one injured.
In Caracas, some people passed the day banging on pots and cursing the government’s apparent lack of planning. There was no cash to be seen changing hands on the street or inside shops, and no sign that the new bills were on their way.