Twenty thousand Venezuelans cross the Colombian border daily to shop for what they cannot find at home.
Within the Colombian market, products are well stocked, and well priced – including staple foods like flour and rice.
Prices in Venezuela rose by 1,700,00 percent in 2018 according to opposition political parties. The hyperinflation is so severe, that even Venezuelans like tailor Marco Rosales now use Colombian pesos as a preferred currency.
“No one accepts the Venezuelan currency anymore. In my case, in the business that I run, I get paid in (Colombian) pesos, because I have to buy in Colombia all my supplies. You can’t find raw materials anywhere in Venezuela. You have to pay all the supplies with pesos and the employees’ salaries have to be paid in pesos,” he says.
Marco blames controls on currency exchange controls and the lack of cash on hyperinflation. He says that the Venezuelan bolívar is worthless, something that money changers confirm.
“We have a lot of money in all the tables because the people don’t want to come back to Venezuela with Bolívares. They want to buy pesos,” says trader Monica Tovar.
Embattled President Nicolás Maduro accuses currency changers at the border of artificially devaluing the bolívar. He also blames Venezuelans like Rafael, who buy in Colombia what is simply not available in Venezuela, which Maduro says makes everything more expensive.
Rafael says not so fast. He points to Maduro’s Government, who he says does the same thing.
”He taught the society how the game is. Now everyone plays and everyone participates,” he says . “The monopoly ended. It is no longer only owned by them, because there are no products in Venezuela and anyone can come, buy, send, and earn some money.”
“This was a dead zone. We weren’t selling hardly anything. There was no production here. So the situation has worked well for us. More businesses have opened. Various supermarkets have opened. And it has worked well for us,” says Businessman Rafael Jaimes.
Euronews’s Hector Estepa told Good Morning Europe that the Venezuelan government had tried to implement different measures to ease the hyperinflation, including the creation of a digital currency, the petro. But prices continue to rise, with Caracas saying that Venezuela is suffering an economic war orchestrated by Washington.