Episode 858: Venezuela's Fugitive Money Traders : Planet Money The Venezuelan government doesn't want you to know the real value of its currency. But Ruben and Mila figured it out. Now they're on the lam.
NPR logo Episode 858: Venezuela's Fugitive Money Traders

Episode 858: Venezuela's Fugitive Money Traders

FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
A man counts 1000-Bolivar-bills to buy groceries at the municipal market of Coche, a neighbourhood of Caracas, on June 20, 2018.
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, is like an unwrapped chocolate bar these days. The minute it touches your hand it starts to melt. To disappear. So Venezuelans have been trying to trade their money for anything at all: Toilet paper, bags of sugar, and, if they can manage it, U.S. dollars.

But buying and selling dollars is risky business in Venezuela. It's against the law unless you do it through the government, and most people aren't allowed. The government doesn't want too many people selling their bolivars for dollars. Over the last few months, hundreds of people have been arrested for helping trade currencies, and even just for calculating the black market exchange rate.

Today on the show, what happens when nobody wants a country's money anymore? We watch the fight to control a dying currency, and meet black market money traders who narrowly escaped the government's grasp.

For more on Venezuela, check out Episode 731: How Venezuela Imploded.

Music: "Beating All Odds," "Waiting For You" and "Lightning Strike."

Find us: Twitter/ Facebook / Instagram

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.