CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela has become a country without cash.
On Friday, the country's most widely-used banknote went out of circulation. But the higher-denomination bills that are supposed to replace the 100-bolivar note have not arrived at banks or ATMs. People are relying on credit cards and bank transfers, or avoiding making purchases altogether.
President Nicolas Maduro made a surprise announcement Sunday that the 100-bolivar note would go out of circulation by the week's end. He also temporarily closed the border with Colombia, and then on Thursday night extended the border closure for another 72 hours. He says the closure is needed to thwart smugglers who hoard bolivars in Colombia.
Maduro held up a new 500 bolivar bill on his television show Thursday, but on Friday, ATMs were still issuing the now-worthless 100-bolivar notes.