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Venezuela's Currency Has Taken a Nosedive

The bolivar was trading at 402 for each US dollar on the black market on Friday afternoon, not a good sign for cash-strapped Venezuelans.
Photo by David Fernandez/EPA

Venezuela's bolivar currency has taken a precipitous drop in recent days, hitting a low of 402 bolivars to the dollar on the black market as of Friday afternoon.

The drop has alarmed Venezuelans already struggling with access to basic goods such as sugar or products such as condoms amid government measures and the lack of dollars in circulation under President Nicolás Maduro.

Below the headline "Hyperinflation!" the website DolarToday reported on May 22 that currency trading has skyrocketed against the dollar, dropping to 420. By comparison, at the start of this year, the exchange rate was 173 bolivars to the dollar.


Since Maduro's term began in 2013, the news agency AFP noted, the Venezuelan bolivar has dropped in value by 1,600 percent.

Venezuela's official exchange rate is set up as complicated three-tier system with rates that vary vastly depending on what Venezuelans plan to purchase. Trading currency using one of the three official rates — the lowest of which is currently fixed at 6.3 bolivars per dollar — is subject to government approval, and often not an option for the average citizen who is left with no other option than the exorbitant black market rate.

DolarToday is just one of dozens of sites that the Venezuelan government is aiming to block in the country, claiming that it influences citizens' spending behavior.

"In Venezuela there hasn't been, nor will there be, a dollarization," Maduro said on Tuesday. "Our currency is and always will be the bolivar."

The fall, though, has prompted frenzied unloading of bolivars, as Venezuelans have rushed to buy dollars as the safest way to insulate their money from the currency's rapid depreciation.

Further exacerbating Venezuela's economic struggles, on May 22, the nation's foreign reserves also fell to their lowest point in 12 years.

Related: A Condom Shortage Is Altering Young People's Sex Lives in Venezuela

VICE News reporter Alicia Hernández contributed to this report. Follow @VICENews on Twitter for continuing coverage on Venezuela.