For Immediate Release
Amid Debt Crisis, Venezuela Fails to Supply Larger Bills
WASHINGTON - Venezuela missed a self imposed deadline to release new higher-denomination bills designed to help its citizens amidst rising inflation. The government failed to release 500 to 20,000 bolivar notes after the currency lost over half its value in November. The government also discontinued the 100 bolivar note, worth only a few US cents, leaving Venezuelans scrambling to exchange them for smaller bills. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects inflation to rise to 1,660% next year.
"People across Venezuela are feeling the effects of this crisis,"said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "People can't find or afford basic food and medical supplies."
Human Rights Watch reports that infant and maternal death rates rose in 2016 and that basic medical supplies are lacking in public hospitals. The IMF predicts that Venezuela's economy will continue to contract in the years ahead.
Venezuela owes $120 billion in external debt and could default before the new year.
"Venezuela is headed towards a debt restructuring," noted LeCompte, who serves on United Nations expert groups focused on debt and finance. "Our financial system lacks the tools to address this crisis head on."