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crisis in venezuela

Venezuelans 'dollarize' to survive

Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, has been subject to hyperinflation for months, with shopkeepers reportedly weighing bundles of near-worthless bills rather than counting them. The bolivar's value changes so often now, Reuters reports, that Venezuelans increasingly refuse to accept their own country's money in a desperate bid to retain real purchasing power.

In place of the bolivar, the dollar is demanded. "I can't think in bolivars anymore, because you have to give a different price every hour," a jeweler named Yoselin Aguirre told Reuters. "To survive, you have to dollarize," he added, which is why his prices are now tied to the dollar.

Currency exchange limits, low wages, a devastated economy, and an artificial exchange rate set by the socialist Maduro government make dollars hard to come by for most Venezuelans. The official exchange rate is 10 bolivars to one dollar, but on the black market it's more like 110,000 to one. So useless are the low-denomination bolivar bills that Reuters describes them being used as Christmas decorations in a "grim festive joke" for a holiday this year marked by deadly hunger.

For more, read The Week's Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry on Venezuela's socialist hell.