Some ruling party politicians in Venezuela will stop at nothing to hide the jaw dropping fall of the country’s currency, the bolivar, against the dollar, and that could mean taking on companies like Google and Firefox.
One legislator, Juan Carlos Alemán, said on Monday that the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation is working on a way to make it impossible for Venezuelans to check the black market value of the bolivar, which has declined 30% in the last month.
“The problem is that we rely on servers like Google and Firefox that are search engine technology that we don’t have under our national control,” he said in a television interview. “That’s why we launched two satellites into space and one of them is meant specifically to materialise our own technological platform so that we can assert our independence and control this situation.”
It’s illegal to publish the black market exchange rate in Venezuela, but an app called DolarToday has all the information. President Nicolas Maduro has said the app’s very existence is “economic war” on the country, and it is banned in Venezuela. Back in March the government’s attempt to block the app also took out websites like Amazon, Snapchat, and Pintrest.
Venezuelans have been getting around all of that, though, by using Twitter and other websites that pick up DolarToday’s content.
Venezuela’s inflation rate hit 69% in December, according to Bloomberg. The black market bolivar to dollar exchange rate surged from 279 bolivars to the dollar at the beginning of this month to as much as 423 bolivars to the dollar recently.
Within Maduro’s party this has sparked a debate about the strange three-tiered currency system the country has adopted. Venezuela has different exchange rates for priority imports. The lowest rate is 6.3 bolivars to the dollar, but your average Venezuelan isn’t getting that. They’re getting the black market rate which has fallen 82% in the last year. Wages aren’t keeping up with this either.
So some politicians have suggested reforming the system, but it’s unclear exactly what that would do to the currency. Legislator Germán Ferrer said on Monday that creating only one exchange rate may “start solving some equilibrium.”
That said, all of this is uncharted territory and Maduro’s administration may want to stick with “solutions” they have stuck to in the past — blocking information and blaming outsiders for what’s going on inside the country