A new neoliberal reality has emerged in the Chavist nation through the use of the US dollar, state controls being lifted and a new relationship with Washington
Adriana drives through the streets of downtown Caracas while the city sleeps. She picks up customers through the Yummy app, the Venezuelan Uber. For a few months, this was the best-kept secret among the local micro-economy: demand was through the roof and a good night an alert worker could make around $60. But soon word spread and many people put their cars to work. Adriana’s customer pulls out a $20 bill to pay for the trip, which costs $17. She pretends to search the glove compartment for change, but they both know how this ends. “Sorry, I don’t seem to have any change. Thanks, see you!” And she drives off $3 better off. Low denomination bills are scarce in the headlong capitalism that is gripping Venezuela. Everybody is thinking about money. Daily life is governed by greenbacks. The country, through Chavism, has moved on from the unsuccessful application of the Socialist Bolivarian revolution to a process of opening up branded in the forges of liberalism. The phenomenon has caused a mirage of economic recovery to appear.
Gone are the days of rigid controls. Up until very recently, Venezuelans hid their dollars because it was a crime to possess them beyond the watchful eye of the state. People had to queue for hours to buy rationed food at regulated prices and bolívars, the local currency, were few and far between. The panorama now is completely different. The use of the dollar as everyday currency, the lifting of price controls and tariff-free imports have changed the reality under which Venezuelans previously attempted to subsist
The economy, says Luis Vicente León, an economist and president of the polling company Datanálisis, rebels against the established order faster than societies themselves. “What is happening in Venezuela, as it did before in China or Russia, is that people are looking for imaginative solutions to the control and interventionism of the state. When the government experienced problems due to sanctions and international isolation, they started to realize that riding this surfboard that society had created was more of a solution than a problem. And the government jumped on.” And exactly the same thing happened with the dollar, which went almost overnight from being demonized to providing some guarantee of a certain stability.
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