Dozens of Venezuelans protested on Friday in several states over their lack of ability to swap 100-bolivar bills that have been taken out of circulation amid sky-high inflation, with reports of looting at some commercial establishments.
"Attempted looting in some parts of the country. A situation aggravated by the lack of cash. The new bills aren't appearing," EFE news quoted the President of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, as saying on Twitter.
The Mayor of the southeastern municipality of Sifontes, Bolivar state, reported road closures, attempts to loot stores and angry protests in that region and uploaded photos on Twitter that showed dozens of people lining up outside state-owned banks to swap their money for new higher-denomination bills and coins.
"Looting in the municipality of El Callao (Bolivar state); the people demand an extension of the time to deposit the discontinued bill," Carlos Chancellor, a member of the opposition MUD alliance, wrote.
The Governor of the north-central state of Miranda, prominent opposition leader and two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, also urged citizens to demand that the Tuesday deadline for swapping the 100-bolivar note be extended.
The Venezuelan Central Bank on Thursday took the 100-bolivar note, the largest denomination bill, out of circulation, while citizens have between Wednesday and Friday to deposit those notes at public or private banks.
Those unable to deposit all of their 100-bolivar notes at bank branches will still have until December 20 to declare and deposit those bills at the Central Bank.
The government had announced that a new family of higher-denomination bills better suited to the country's high inflation rate, which hit 180.9 per cent at the end of 2015, would begin to circulate on Thursday.
With citizens still waiting for these bills, leftist President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday night that they were now being distributed at bank branches.
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