A Venezuelan artist has finally found a use for his country’s bolivar currency in the form of art canvases, local website Venezuela al Día revealed.
The project, undertaken by the 25-year-old tattoo artist and illustrator José León, is known as “Venezuela Devalued” and uses bolívar notes to “recreate great characters, scenarios and psychedelic concepts.”
Some of the designs include drawings of socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, anti-government activists, and the bustling city of Caracas.
“The legacy that I wanted to leave with this to intervene the bills is that the other generation knows how devalued the country is, what is intrinsic to the situation, how little our currency is worth compared to other countries,” said León.
“Even though the government claims our currency has value, I show Venezuela that my tampered currency is worth more than the same currency in circulation,” he continued.
Currency inflation in Venezuela began to soar as early as 2007 as a result of Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution and has now reached levels similar to Germany’s Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe, which saw people using wheelbarrows to buy products and the introduction of a 100-trillion-dollar banknote.
While, ten years ago, a 100-bolivar note could buy someone a television, it is now worth approximately 0.001 U.S. cents as a result of hyperinflation. With a current exchange rate of over 100,000 bolivares to the dollar, most old Venezuelan banknote denominations are now practically worthless.
In November, the Maduro regime made another attempt to solve the country’s currency crisis with the introduction a new 100,000 bolivar bill to reduce people’s need to carry thousands of banknotes to buy necessities such as food and hygienic products. However, this bill is already worth under one dollar and rapidly losing value.
The government previously released 500, 1000, 2000, 10,000, and 20,000 bolivar notes, although continued inflation means that these denominations are also now worth just a fraction of a dollar.
Maduro announced this month the introduction of a new oil-based cryptocurrency known as the “Petro,” allegedly meant to ease the currency crisis and boost the country’s economy. However, critics have dismissed it as lacking credibility.
The worthlessness of the bolivar currency has become the driving factor behind the country’s current humanitarian crisis, with the monthly minimum wage of under $2 leading to millions of people suffering from malnutrition and lack of adequate medical attention.