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Venezuela in 2nd day of cash crisis

AAP logoAAP 18/12/2016

For the second straight day, Venezuelans faced the crisis of getting through the day without cash, after the 100-bolivar bill, which has the largest circulation in the country, was no longer accepted as payment, while bills of lower denomination are strictly rationed.

On this second cashless day, protests broke out in the country's interior where, particularly in rural areas, methods of payment aside from cash are hard for people to get their hands on.

In Bolivar state, one of the chief mining areas in the southern part of the country and bordering on Brazil, authorities reported a number of protests and stores being plundered for the lack of money in circulation for making purchases.

The state governor, the Chavista Francisco Rangel Gomez, said that 135 people were arrested for being caught perpetrating acts of violence, and announced that security forces are being doubled.

Protesters have attacked government offices in the state, Rangel Gomez announced, and said the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro's government is guilty of sparking the violence.

Several stores in Bolivar and other states of the country decided not to open as protection against these attacks.

As a last resort, Bolivar authorities decided to co-ordinate with stores to accept 100-bolivar bills as a form of payment, even though they lost their validity last Tuesday. Stores should have stopped accepting them last Thursday, when the time expired when they could be deposited in private banks.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told citizens on Saturday that the reason the new bills, which should have started circulating on December 15, have not yet been delivered to the country is due to "international sabotage" aimed at harming the Venezuelan economy.

The decision to replace the old paper money, in circulation since 2008, was made to deal with inflation and facilitate the handling of cash, which in recent years became unbearable because of the huge volume of bills needed to make the simplest cash payments.

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