Venezuela extends use of 100-bolivar bill until January 2


With protests rocking his unpopular government, embattled president Nicolas Maduro has delayed until January 2 taking Venezuela's highest denomination bill out of circulation.

But President Maduro praised Venezuelans for their understanding in a televised address on Thursday.

Maduro told a cabinet meeting that over the next few days, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) will circulate 327 million units of 50 bolivar bills, and 65 million units of a new 500 bolivar note, after deciding to take the 100 bolivar bill out of circulation.

Maduro claimed Venezuela had been the victim of worldwide sabotage, which had prevented new 500-bolivar currency notes arriving in time, the BBC reports.

The 100 bolivar bills, officially out of use since Thursday and worth just 4 U.S. cents at the black market currency rate, can now be used until January 2, Maduro said.

All week, Venezuelans waited in long lines to deposit their soon-to-be-worthless 100-bolivar notes in banks. It went out of circulation on Friday, yet the replacement bills had not yet arrived at banks or ATMs, forcing people to rely on credit cards or bank transfers, or to try to make purchases with bundles of hard-to-find smaller bills often worth less than a penny each.

Indignation at having to deal with an economy even more paralyzed than usual sparked social unrest.

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"Our children are going hungry", said Lucrecia Morales in Caracas. "We need a solution".

Anger over the move led to skirmishes in six cities on Friday, the Associated Presss reported the authorities as saying, with 32 people being taken into custody and one injured.

Opposition politicians said yesterday that four people were killed in rioting in the capital of the southern state of Bolivar, though officials have not confirmed those figures.

In Caracas, people banged on pots and cursed the government's apparent lack of planning.

SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela Hundreds of Venezuelans jumped barriers to defy their government's closure of the Colombian border on Saturday while looting and protests continued due to a cash shortage, causing pre-Christmas chaos.

He has closed the borders with Brazil and Colombia until Sunday to stop "mafias" hoarding the currency overseas. However, critics mocked the idea that criminal organizations would keep their wealth in the world's fastest-devaluing currency.

Only foot traffic for family visits will be allowed, he said.