Venezuela adopts new currency

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Now Venezuela sufferin' from shortage of radioactive material for cancer patients...

Venezuela's shortage of radioactive material threatens cancer patients
April 20, 2016 -- A shortage of radioactive materials in Venezuela is threatening medical services as cancer treatments and diagnoses for patients are frozen, the Venezuelan Society of Nuclear Medicine warns.
Venezuela has not received a shipment of Iodine-131 or Technetium-99m so far in 2016. Iodine-131 is used in Venezuela as a less-aggressive treatment for patients with thyroid cancers, while Technetium-99m is used to diagnose breast cancers and to carry out bone scans that identify metastatic growths. The University Clinic at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas used its last dose of Technetium-99m on Wednesday during a radioguided surgery. Aisa Manzo, a nuclear medicine specialist at the university, said the shortage has affected treatments, adding that the last technetium generator at the institution ran out of materials earlier this month. "The availability of Iodine is none," Manzo said during a nuclear medicine conference. "We were receiving capsules until December and it was supposed that deliveries would restart at the beginning of the year, but that has not been regularized."

Manzo warns that although many patients have sought treatment in Colombia, Argentina and other countries, those who do not have that option are at risk of growing tumors in their neck, lungs and bones. The Venezuelan Society of Nuclear Medicine said the shortage of radioactive material could affect at least 400 patients nationwide. Ánderson Cepeda, deputy nuclear medic at the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas, said that no patients who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at his hospital in 2016 have received treatment. Former President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez received cancer treatment at the Arvelo Military Hospital in the capital city.

Venezuela is going through a devastating financial collapse that has led to shortages of basic goods such as food and medicine. The South American country's National Assembly, run by a majority of opposition members, is attempting to declare a national humanitarian health crisis that would force the ruling government of President Nicolas Maduro to accept foreign medicinal aid. José Olivares, president of Venezuela's Commission of Health, introduced the Bill to Address the Humanitarian Health Crisis during debate earlier this month and warned that Venezuelans living with HIV and cancer are particularly at risk, also criticizing Maduro and his health minister, Luisana Melo. "In Venezuela the problem is not with pharmacies, the problem of Venezuela is that there are no medications," Olivares said. "I hope you can sleep peacefully, as hundreds of Venezuelans do not sleep peacefully because they can't find their medicines."

Venezuela's shortage of radioactive material threatens cancer patients
 

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Venezuelans lose sleep to save power...

Venezuelans lose sleep to save electricity
Sun, 01 May 2016 - Venezuelans lose half an hour of sleep on Sunday when their clocks move forward to save power, as they grapple with a deep economic crisis.
The time change was ordered by President Nicolas Maduro as part of a package of measures to cope with a severe electricity shortage. The government already ordered rolling blackouts and reduced the working week for public sector workers to two days. Mr Maduro has blamed the energy crisis on a severe drought. He says the drought has drained the country's hydroelectric dams and its capacity to generate power. His critics say the crisis is due to mismanagement of the energy sector. The government has also ordered schools to close on Fridays and shopping malls to open only half time and generate their own energy.

When he announced the time change, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza said the night-time use of lighting and air conditioning was especially draining for the national power grid. "It will be simple to move the clock forward a half hour - this will allow us to enjoy more daylight, and it wont get dark so early," he said. Oil-rich Venezuela is in the middle of a deep economic crisis caused by a drop in global oil prices. The country is suffering from a shortage of basic goods and food. Mr Maduro has said the situation has been caused by an "economic war" against his socialist government driven by the country's business elite and the United States. The opposition in Congress which took over the legislature in December has accused Mr Maduro and his government of economic mismanagement and incompetence.


People queue to try to buy basic food items outside a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela​

They have sworn to drive him from office and have begun gathering the signatures needed to begin organising a referendum to remove him from the presidency. On Saturday they said they had gathered nearly two million signatures - 10 times the amount required by the country's electoral board. If the board verifies the signatures, the government's opponents will then have to collect four million more - to total 20% of voters - for the board to organise a referendum vote. For the referendum to be successful, an equal or greater number of voters than those who elected Mr Maduro would have to cast their vote in favour of the recall. Mr Maduro won the 2013 election with 7,587,579 votes.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's economic crisis has claimed another victim as the country's largest brewer, Polar, suspended its operations. Polar, the largest private company in the country, brews about 70% of the country's beer and Venezuela is one of the highest consumers of the beverage in Latin America. Polar has argued that the government has not released enough dollars to allow it to import malted barley, which Venezuela does not produce. The government has accused Polar of exaggerating its dollar requirements and of hoarding. The stoppage, which Polar says is temporary, will affect about 10,000 employees.

Venezuelans lose sleep to save electricity - BBC News
 

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Venezuela's medical shortage accepts help from foreign sources...

Venezuela OKs accepting foreign help for medicine shortage
May 4, 2016 -- Venezuela's National Assembly approved a bill to declare a national humanitarian health crisis that would force the ruling government of President Nicolas Maduro to accept foreign medicinal aid.
The main objective of the law is to "develop the priority obligation of the state, through the national public health system, to guarantee the right to health." Venezuela continues to experience shortages of medicine, food for the sick and infant formula, and increased maternal mortality rates and loss of transplant organs due to power failures. The law -- officially titled the Special Law attending to the National Humanitarian Health Crisis -- will permit the declaration of an emergency, which allow Venezuela to receive medications as a form of aid from other countries, specifically in Latin America and Europe. Venezuela would also be allowed to request assistance from the World Health Organization.


José Olivares, president of Venezuela's Commission of Health and member of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, opposition coalition, has been a vocal critic of the Maduro administration in regards to its response to Venezuela's health woes amid a crippling economic deterioration. "What good are you sitting there and having power, if you do not care about the lives of Venezuelans?" Olivares said in a criticism to Maduro's coalition. The MUD blames government inaction for exacerbating the country's health crisis, whereas Maduro's ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, argues the crisis is a symptom of an economic problem.

A shortage of radioactive materials in Venezuela is also threatening medical services as cancer treatments and diagnoses for patients are frozen. At the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas, no patients who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at his hospital in 2016 have received treatment. Loengri Matheus, member of a party aligned with PSUV, said the opposition lawmakers want to "usurp power of the president by requesting help from other countries." Carmen Meléndez, another Maduro parliamentary ally, said the government is willing to receive donations of medicines "but with dignity, not receiving pity from the world." MUD member Virgilio Ferrer previously condemned PSUV's inaction amid the health crisis, stating Maduro's government was "committing the largest genocide in the country."

Venezuela OKs accepting foreign help for medicine shortage
 

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Venezuela issues new banknotes to deal with inflation...

Venezuela issues new banknotes after inflation
Sun, 04 Dec 2016 - Venezuela is issuing higher-value notes to help alleviate the problem of soaring inflation.
Venezuela is issuing new higher-value notes to help deal with some of the practical problems of soaring inflation. A backpack full of cash is often required to pay bills at a restaurant or supermarket. The central bank said that six new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars would come into circulation on 15 December. Currently the largest note is 100 bolivars and worth about two US cents.


Venezuelans line up at ATM​

Over the past month, the currency has tumbled by 60% against the dollar on the black market. "[This] will make the payments system more efficient, facilitate commercial transactions and minimize the costs of production, replacement and transfer ... which will translate into benefits for banking, trade and the general population," the central bank said. On Friday, Venezuela's credit card and cash machine system froze, leaving businesses unable to process transactions and having to ask for cash or to delay payment.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro blamed the problem on a cyber-attack. He maintains that the economic crisis is being backed by the US. The government last published figures for inflation in December 2015, putting it at 180%, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that next year's prices will rise by more than 2,000%. The Venezuelan economy has been hit hard by the fall in the price of oil, its main source of income. It also has had strict currency controls in place since 2003.

Venezuela issues new banknotes after inflation - BBC News
See also:

Venezuela crisis: What is behind the turmoil?
26 October 2016 - Tension in Venezuela remains high as the economic crisis which has engulfed the country shows little sign of abating. The government and the opposition blame each other for the dire state of the economy.
Venezuela's inflation rate, which already is the world's highest, is expected to rise to a staggering 1,660% next year, the International Monetary Fund predicts. The opposition-led National Assembly has voted to open a "political trial" against President Nicolas Maduro, a move which the president dismissed as "illegitimate". Each side has accused the other of coup-mongering. Here, we look more in depth at the problems facing Venezuela and its president.

Why is Venezuela so divided?

Venezuela is split into Chavistas, the name given to the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez, and those who cannot wait to see an end to the 17 years in power of his United Socialist Party (PSUV). After the socialist leader died in 2013, Nicolas Maduro, also of the PSUV, was elected president on a promise to continue Mr Chavez's policies. Chavistas praise the two men for using Venezuela's oil riches to markedly reduce inequality and for lifting many Venezuelans out of poverty.


Deputies of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) and of the Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV) scuffle during a session of the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela​

But the opposition says that since it came to power in 1999, the PSUV has eroded Venezuela's democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy. Chavistas in turn accuse the opposition of being elitist and of exploiting poor Venezuelans to increase their own riches. They also allege that opposition leaders are in the pay of the United States, a country with which Venezuela has had fraught relations in recent years.

Why has Mr Maduro's popularity plummeted?

Mr Maduro has not been able to inspire Chavistas in the same way his predecessor did. His government has furthermore been hampered by falling oil prices. Oil accounts for about 95% of Venezuela's export revenues and was used to finance some of the government's generous social programmes which, according to official figures, have provided more than one million poor Venezuelans with homes.

The lack of oil revenue has forced the government to curtail its social programmes, leading to an erosion of support among its core backers. A recent poll by firm Datanalisis suggested that more than 75% of Venezuelans were unhappy with the way Mr Maduro governed the country.

What does the opposition want?
 

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Venezuela goin' the way of Zimbabwe...

Venezuelans prepare for largest currency note to be yanked
Dec 12,`16 -- Venezuelans are rushing to spend their 100-bolivar notes after President Nicolas Maduro's announcement they will be taken out of circulation to stop the contraband smuggling "mafias" along the Colombian border that he says hoard cash outside the country.
The government has promised to issue new, higher-denomination bills this week amid the world's highest inflation.

Maduro warned Sunday that people will not be allowed to bring back 100-bolivar bills from outside the country to trade them in for new currency. People loyal to Maduro's socialist party on Monday circulated drawings on social media of hapless criminals trying to smuggle 100-bolivar bills into Venezuela like drugs.

An estimated third of Venezuelans have no bank account and keep their savings in the soon-to-be-worthless bills.

News from The Associated Press
 

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Cash crisis leads to protests in Venezuela...

Protests flare over Venezuela cash chaos; three deaths reported
Dec 16 2016 - Venezuela Protests and looting broke out in parts of Venezuela on Friday due to a lack of cash after the socialist government suddenly pulled the nation's largest banknote from circulation in the midst of a brutal economic crisis.
An opposition legislator said there were three deaths amid violent scenes in the southern mining town of Callao - but there was no confirmation of that from the government. Waving the now-worthless 100-bolivar bills, pockets of demonstrators blocked roads, demanded that stores accept the cash, and cursed President Nicolas Maduro in a string of towns and cities around Venezuela, witnesses said. Dozens of shops were looted in various places. Last weekend, Maduro gave Venezuelans three days to ditch the 100-bolivar bills, arguing that the measure was needed to combat mafias on the Colombia border despite warnings from some economists that it risked sparking chaos.


Broken showcases are seen after a shoe shop was looted in Maracaibo, Venezuela​

Opposition leaders said the move was further evidence he is destroying the OPEC nation's economy and must be removed. Authorities have thwarted a referendum sought by the opposition against the leftist leader. That might enable him to complete a six-year term ending in early 2019, but increases the prospect of social unrest. With new bills - originally due on Thursday - still nowhere to be seen, many Venezuelans were unable to fill their vehicles' fuel tanks to get to work, buy food or purchase Christmas gifts. Adding to the chaos, many cash machines were broken or empty. And large lines formed outside the central bank offices in Caracas and Maracaibo where the 100-bolivar bills could still be handed over and deposited for a few days more.

'MOCKERY'

"This is a mockery," said bus driver Richard Montilva as he and several hundred others blocked a street outside a bank in the town of El Pinal in Tachira state near Colombia. First Justice lawmaker Angel Medina said large numbers of shops had been ransacked, destroyed and burned in El Callao, with three people killed and many injured. Reuters could not independently confirm his statements. Speaking in general terms, Maduro condemned the violence around the country, and said two banks had been attacked by people linked to the opposition coalition. He said the new bills would come into circulation soon, appealed for the population's "comprehension", and urged Venezuelans to use electronic transactions where possible. About 40 percent of Venezuelans do not have bank accounts.


A man holds a bone and a placard that reads 'Maduro: communist, unhappy, damn. Resign, now', in front of a pole covered with 100-bolivar bills during a protest in El Pinal, Venezuela​

Outside the central bank in Caracas, thousands of Venezuelans lined up to swap the 100-bolivar bills before a final Tuesday deadline as National Guard soldiers kept watch. An orange and avocado vendor offered to buy the notes up for 80 bolivars each. Maduro's measure has stoked anger among Venezuelans already weary of long lines for food and medicine amid product shortages and triple-digit inflation. He blames the crisis on an "economic war" waged against his government to weaken the bolivar currency and unseat him. Critics scoff at that explanation, pointing instead to state controls and excessive money printing. "I want a change in government. I don't care about changing the bills; they're not worth anything anyway," said Isabel Gonzalez, 62, standing in line at the central bank on Friday. She said she had just enough cash to get a bus home.

Protests flare over Venezuela cash chaos; three deaths reported
 

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Venezuela's foreign reserves down 66%...

Venezuela's foreign reserves, mostly in gold, down to $10.5B
March 2, 2017 -- The Central Bank of Venezuela, or BCV, said the country has $10.5 billion in foreign reserves, mostly in gold, which amounts to a 66 percent decrease since 2011.
Venezuela has $7.2 billion in outstanding debt payments for the rest of 2017. In 2011, the South American country had about $30 billion in reserves and it had about $20 billion in 2015, BCV records show.


About $7.7 billion of Venezuela's remaining $10.5 billion in foreign reserves are gold. The South American country is facing an economic crisis.​

Venezuela is facing a political and economic crisis in which basic goods such as food and medicine are in short supply, unavailable or unaffordable. The United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean predicts Venezuela's gross domestic product will decrease 4 percent in 2017, while the International Monetary Fund estimates inflation will increase 1,600 percent.

A survey found that nearly 75 percent of the population lost an average of at least 19 pounds in 2016 due to a lack of proper nutrition amid the economic crisis. About $7.7 billion of Venezuela's $10.5 billion in foreign reserves is made up of gold. Early last year, Venezuela sold more than 40 tons of gold -- about $1.7 billion -- to pay debts.

Venezuela's foreign reserves, mostly in gold, down to $10.5B
 

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New Venezuelan assembly ousts attorney general...

Venezuela assembly ousts attorney general after guards swarm her office
Aug. 5, 2017 ) -- Venezuela's newly elected National Constituent Assembly voted unanimously to remove Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz from office.
The assembly voted to permanently remove Ortega Diaz from her Supreme Court position and replaced her with Tarek William Saab, Venezuela's human rights ombudsman and supporter of President Nicolas Maduro. Prior to the vote on Saturday Ortega Diaz tweeted photos showing dozens of uniformed guards standing outside, in what she called a "siege" and an "arbitrary act" on her office in Caracas. About three dozen troops stood outside the building and apparently stopped Ortega Diaz and others from moving in and out of the building.


Dozens of uniformed guards stood outside of Luisa Ortega Diaz's office in Caracas, Venezuela as the country's newly implemented National Constituent Assembly voted to remove her from the office of attorney general​

Her office also tweeted that the department's employees were "victims of abuse" by the guards. Ortega Diaz was a supporter of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, but clashed with Maduro about repression against street protesters and announced on Wednesday she had opened an investigation into the election that created the Maduro-backed National Constituent Assembly.

The London-based company that handled the election's polling technology has said they are sure "without any doubt" that the vote was manipulated. A human rights commission of the Organization of American States asked that Venezuela's government guarantee the safety of Ortega and her family from prosecution following her removal from office.

Venezuela assembly ousts attorney general after guards swarm her office
 

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Extreme inflation will increase 13,000% in Venezuela this year...

IMF: Venezuela inflation will increase 13,000% this year
Jan. 25, 2018 -- Venezuela's inflation will soar 13,000 percent this year, though other Latin American countries have much better economic prospects, the International Monetary Fund said in a revised forecast Thursday.
The increase -- 130 times greater than last year -- is more than five times the inflation previously projected by IMF. Last year, price increases were 2,400 percent -- the biggest in the world. The IMF wrote in the report that the rise is "fueled by monetary financing of large fiscal deficits and the loss of confidence in the nation's currency." President Nicolas Maduro's government has attempted to control inflation by refusing to loosen foreign-exchange controls and price caps that have increased the short supply of all sorts of products, including food to medicine.

Also, Venezuela's real gross domestic product is projected to fall by about 15 percent for a cumulative GDP decline of almost 50 percent since 2013. The growth forecast for 2019 is a 15 percent decline and 6 percent drop in 2019. "This trend is the result of significant micro-level distortions and macroeconomic imbalances compounded by the collapse in oil exports -- initially from the sharp fall in oil prices in mid-2014 and, more recently, from the collapse in domestic oil production," the IMF said in the report. The United States last month sanctioned Venezuela government and military officials accused of having associations with corruption and repression. The Treasury Department said "corruption and repression" has continued to grow under Maduro's regime.


A group of people walk in front of a liquor store that was looted in the early hours of the morning in the La Vega sector in Caracas, Venezuela, on December 28, 2017. Residents were protesting shortage of food, medicine, gas and water.​

The IMF revised its projections of other nations in Latin America with the GDP predicted to increase 1.9 percent in 2018 and 2.6 in 2019 after it was 1.3 percent last year. Other Latin Americans in Central America and parts of the Caribbean will benefit from stronger U.S. growth, the report said. And South America's economy has increased due to the end of recessions in Brazil and Argentina, as well as higher prices for the raw materials to export, according to the report. "Recent trends in the world economy and financial markets are good news for Latin America," Alejandro Werner, head of the IMF's Western Hemisphere department wrote in the report. "Global growth and trade are on an upswing, and we expect the momentum to continue in 2018. Stronger commodity prices have also helped the region rebound."

The IMF specifically was high on Ecuador after coming off its recession because of higher oil prices and greater acceptance to financial markets. IMF boosted its 2018 GDP outlook to 2.2 percent from 0.6 percent. And the IMF cited Chile's growth prospects because of continued improvement in copper prices and business sentiment -- 2.2 percent in 2018. Mexico's GDP is predict to grow 2.3 percent in 2018 and 3.0 percent in 2019 on the strength of higher growthin the United States, now pegged higher at 2.7 percent in 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019.

IMF: Venezuela inflation will increase 13,000% this year
 

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Venezuela City Issues Own Currency...

Venezuela City Issues Own Currency to Combat National Cash Crisis
March 17, 2018 — A western Venezuelan city began to issue its own currency this week to alleviate the hyperinflationary country's cash crisis.
The "Elorza" currency, with bills featuring the face of local independence leader Jose Andres Elorza, will be valid in the city of Elorza, near Venezuela's border with Colombia. The bills are being sold in the municipality's offices to ensure that thousands of tourists and residents can trade, said mayor Solfreddy Solorzano, a member of the ruling Socialist Party. Venezuela's national currency, the bolivar, has plummeted in recent years amid a crippling economic crisis. Prices are doubling nearly every month and basics such as food and medicine are nearly unavailable.


A woman holds a placard that reads "No more hunger. Stop. Change. Out Maduro Out" — a reference to President Nicolas Maduro — during a gathering of opposition supporters in Caracas, Venezuela​

On top of that, there are shortages of cash itself, making basic transactions impossible. "People do not have bolivars to spend, so we created two denominations of notes," Solorzano said, adding that some 2 billion bolivars' worth of "Elorza" had been purchased — roughly $9,000 at the black market exchange rate. Many in Venezuela earn the equivalent of just a dollar or two a month.

Collective's currency

In December, a socialist collective in one of Caracas's emblematic hilltop slums launched its own currency, the panal, to try to overcome cash shortages. One note features the face of late President Hugo Chavez. The currency could be exchanged for rice that members of the community grew and harvested. In Elorza, the mayor's office receives bolivars by bank transfer or debit card payment and, after discounting an 8 percent commission, gives "Elorza" in exchange. People will be able to return the tickets to the mayor's office and claim a bolivar-denominated refund.

President Nicolas Maduro blames the country's crisis on an "economic war" being waged by Washington and the opposition, aimed at toppling his government. Critics blame strict currency and price controls and rapid money-printing. The central bank has increased the total amount of currency in circulation by more than 50 percent in the last month alone, though cash-printing has not kept up. Maduro says smugglers are taking Venezuelan bolivar notes over to Colombia.

Venezuela City Issues Own Currency to Combat National Cash Crisis
 

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