Venezuelan officials announced Sunday the arrival of 13.5 million units of the new 500-bolivar bill, which the government has introduced as a way to combat the “financial mafias” wreaking havoc on the country’s economy.
Jose Khan, vice president of the Central Bank of Venezuela, said that a plane had arrived at the Maiquetía (Simón Bolívar Internacional) Airport on Sunday from Sweden with 272 boxes of currency. He added that more than 60 million bills are set to arrive by Dec. 27.
“This is a plan that’s going to assure this new currency will arrive at our place in a progressive manner,” he said during a press conference.
The measures are part of the government’s attempts to reign in the economic war waged on the country by speculators and business owners, who’ve hoarded everything from food to currency.
On Saturday President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that the nation’s 100-bolivar bill would be taken out of circulation until Jan. 2, 2017. This was decided after discovering that what he called “financial mafias” were hoarding and speculating on millions of those notes, mainly in Colombia.
Over the past week, dozens of people have been arrested and 4 billion bolivars have been recovered as part of the government's “Plan to Hit the Economic Mafias,” begun on Dec. 11. Prior to the discovery, the Central Bank of Venezuela had only held about 2 percent of the notes in its vaults.
“This is a months-long operation, we calculate 16 months at least, of extraction, hoarding, and disappearance of our 100-bolivar bills, which account for almost 70 percent of currency on the street,” he said at a meeting on Sunday. “In the exterior — at least in Cucuta (Colombia) — they took more than 1 billion bills.”
Maduro has linked all of this to a larger international sabotage effort led by the United State’s Treasury Department and complacent NGOs in order to economically ruin the nation, create social unrest and topple the socialist government.
In the latest sabotage effort, cargo planes bringing the currency into the country were intercepted and rerouted in mid-air. It has already taken the government 15 days to commission those planes from “various sources in Europe,” said Maduro.
“The planes received calls from the U.S.’ Treasury Department to cancel their flights and the agreements,” he said. “One of the planes was in mid-flight when it was rerouted towards another country, and we now have proof and other evidence that is currently being processed.”