Venezuela's Maduro spends $6 on gold certificate as pensioners queue for their money


Maduro Buys Gold to Boost Savings amid Five-Digit Inflation

By Jorge Rueda
Associated Press
via Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Monday, September 3, 2018

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Nicolas Maduro said today he is investing part of his personal savings in a gold-backed certificate as part of a much-questioned plan to crush hyperinflation and reactivate Venezuela's moribund economy.

Maduro and First Lady Cilia Flores were the first in line at the central bank in downtown Caracas on Monday as it began selling the certificates.

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He said he spent 350 bolivars -- or about $6 at the recently devalued official exchange rate -- acquiring the certificate, which functions like a fixed-term deposit that matures in a year and is supposedly backed by a 1.5-gram piece of gold held with the monetary authority.

"If I had a little more savings in bolivars I would have invested more," Maduro said as cameras were rolling during his televised visit to the central bank. "Cilia had a little more than me, so she bought her certificate for a little ingot of 2.5 grams."

In a country where five-digit inflation has all but destroyed savings, it remains unclear how many Venezuelans will take up the government's offer.

A few hours after Maduro left, the central bank's main atrium -- the only place where the certificates are being sold for now -- was desolate, with only a handful of prospective buyers inquiring about the documentation required to make a purchase.

However, just around the block tensions were running high outside a state-owned bank as elderly pensioners waited in hours-long lines to withdraw the first part of a huge payment increase promised as part of Maduro's monetary overhaul last month.

"This is a joke. How am I going to buy gold when my pension isn't even enough to live on?" said Juan Vera, 71, sweating in the midday heat after waiting four hours for the bank to open.

Many in line, some of whom had arrived before dawn, said they were hoping to withdraw the pension in cash so they could resell the bills for a huge markup to wealthier Venezuelans looking to get their hands on cash that has gone scarce as the economy's troubles have mounted. But many doubted the bank had enough bills on hand to satisfy the demand. ...

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