Colombian currency mafias in Venezuela: How they operate

A Colombian currency smuggler arrested by Venezuelan federal police. Stacks of 100-bolivar notes can be seen on the truck bed behind him.

Further to my earlier piece today, here’s a little information on what the Venezuelan government is tackling with its efforts to counter the smuggling of 100-bolivar notes out of country:

Since 2013, Venezuela has been confronting a national and international right-wing attack on all fronts. A fierce economic war is part of the strategies used to batter the Bolivarian homeland. Among its tactics is an attack on the nation’s currency.

This crime — forbidden under the Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Financing for Terrorism — was denounced by president Nicolás Maduro, who announced that the operation is directed by mafias from Colombia.

The president indicated on Sunday that in Colombian cities such as Cúcuta, Maicao, Cartagena and Bucaramanga, they are warehousing Venezuelan banknotes, especially the 100-bolivar denomination, which will be out of circulation this week as a measure against those mafias.

Once the paper money is extracted from Venezuela, the mafias use various options to exchange the bolivars according to their whims. The trade in bolivars is legal in Colombia since the year 2000, when the the Bank of the Republic of Colombia, which functions as a central bank, announced Resolution 8, which authorizes direct monetary exchanges with neighboring countries, without converting to US dollars first.

This established a double foreign currency exchange rate in Colombia: one official, established by the Bank of the Republic, and another special one, applied only at the borders.

This dual rate, supported by Resolution 8, facilitates irregular use of bolivars. For example, on Sunday, the Bank of the Republic of Colombia, located in Bogotá, fixed the exchange rate of the bolivar at 300.58 pesos, while the exchanges in Cúcuta (on the Colombian/Venezuelan border) impoverish the bolivar with a price of 2.45 pesos.

That is, while a 100-bolivar note has an official value at the Colombian central bank of 30,058 pesos, at the border, an exchange house will pay just 245 pesos for the same bill.

Later, that quantity is exchanged in Colombia for US dollars. Sunday’s exchange rate was 3,002.80 pesos to the dollar. 100 bolivars would buy 10 US dollars.

Later, those 10 dollars would be exchanged for bolivars in Venezuela, using the “parallel dollar” rate, with which the would obtain, at today’s rate, a gain of more than 42,540 bolivars, used later to buy subsidized products in Venezuela and resell them on Colombian soil.

“It’s been calculated that more than 300 billion bolivars are in the hands of international mafias directed from Colombia, part of the economic coup,” announced the Venezuelan president.

In 2015, socialist leader Diosdado Cabello denounced three ways the Colombian mafias use the bolivar note. At that time, Cabello warned of the “three-legged operation”, which consists of the purchase of three 100-bolivar notes for 250 bolivars apiece, for a total of 750 bolivars in all.

The first note would be hoarded by US and Colombian groups, who would keep it for four or five months in an effort to force the Venezuelan government to print more money in an effort to deal with the scarcity of the currency.

The second note would be passed to exchange houses in Bogotá, where its value is 50 times higher than in Cúcuta, in order to be brought later to the border region to acquire Venezuelan products which are sold as contraband.

And the third note would return to Venezuela in order to buy gasoline, food and subsidized products, and smuggle them to Colombia.

Translation mine.

And Colombian mafias aren’t the only ones in on this business. According to the Venezuelan justice minister, the US government is also part of the scheme, via some of its usual suspects:

Venezuelan justice minister Major-General Néstor Reverol Torres informed that the US government is contracting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to extract Venezuelan paper money from the country.

An investigation into the flight of large sums of cash money, which have rocked the land, determined that this is part of a plan to “end the circulation of money and asphyxiate the national financial system”, according to the Venezuelan National Anti-Drug Office (ONA).

The minister explained that the NGOs contract organized crime groups to extract the money in the form of 100-bolivar notes, the largest denomination in Venezuelan territory, via Colombia, and move it to Asia and Europe. “These operations are being done to leave our country without economic liquidity, as part of the economic war [on Venezuela]”, said Reverol.

Reverol detailed how 300 billion bolivars have been deposited in warehouses in Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic. “This is part of a financial coup,” he said.

Reverol also revealed how these actions have occurred in other countries, such as Libya and Iraq, “to bring down governments via a non-conventional war. They call it ‘Operation Redemption’. Those countries are their objectives, where they are looking to strangle the financial system.”

Reverol showed the media the front page of a European newspaper, where he showed a photo, with a current date, which reveals evidence of the existence of money in foreign warehouses. He also showed videos and other recordings revealing the same.

The Venezuelan authorities are conducting an investigation to determine how these large sums of money left the country.

Reverol denounced the existence of a pact on the part of the NGOs: that once the Venezuelan government falls, the money will be repatriated “at the rate of $30.80 US per 100 bolivars”. For that reason, he says, the president has decided that this money will never return to the country.

[…]

Reverol Torres announced that security forces, along with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), would implement all actions to establish strict vigilance over land, sea and air, in order to prevent this money from clandestinely re-entering the Venezuelan banking system.

Translation, again, mine.

So we can see that the smugglers now have egg all over their faces, as well as a whole slew of useless 100-bolivar notes rotting in their warehouses. No word on the identity of the NGOs supposedly acting on behalf of the US government, but don’t be too surprised if we hear in days to come that they are tied to the laughably-misnamed “National Endowment for Democracy” and its two partisan arms, as Eva Golinger has found in years gone by. After all, the economic coups against Venezuela have remained constant no matter which party was currently occupying the White House.

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