>> Venezuelan authorities arrested 28 people Tuesday in Southern Bolivar State for looting over Christmas. Local authorities say ten businesses, mostly liquor stores, were looted as people around the county expressed frustration over food shortages, power cuts and a spike in prices. Meanwhile in Caracas, Venezuelans are waiting in long lines outside banks and ATMs, just to be able to access cash.
As the country's economy and oil revenue continues to decline, and inflation continues to rise, these scenes are becoming commonplace. Strict exchange controls in Venezuela over the last 15 years have made access to US dollars very limited. Many merchants started charging in dollars, or their black market equivalent, making it more difficult for Venezuelans to access basic goods and services.
> They deposited my salary and it is a digital account, and I only have access to 10,000 bolivars daily. How can I buy pants or food with 10,000 bolivars daily?>> According to tracking by Reuters reporters, the price of a traditional Venezuelan cheese-filled Arepas increased 65% in price in just two weeks.
The increase in these prices made for scanty Christmas celebrations as there were shortages of pine trees, toys, meat, chicken, and cornmeal. And to make a point, a Christmas tree in the country's oil capital was decorated with virtually worthless bolivar bills.