[7/12/17 SABRINA MARTÍN] The cataclysmic devaluation of the bolivar in Venezuela and the brutal repression in the South American country now go hand in hand; state security agencies are increasingly demanding bribes in relatively strong Colombian pesos to release unjustly detained protesters.
It is already public knowledge that the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) take advantage of opposition protests to arrest innocent young people, torture them, and then request bribes of between USD $500 and USD $1,000 to free them; however, in border states they are also increasingly charging such payments in Colombian pesos.
The opposition deputy for Táchira state, Franklin Duarte, denounced that the court bailiff in the region has demanded payments in foreign currency of the relatives of those detained in protests.
“The head of the Táchira sheriffs, Ever Beltran, is charging 80,000 Colombian pesos (approximately USD $24), to those seeking to bail out their loved ones. We make this complaint so that the presiding judge and president of the judicial judicial circuit, Yorley Perez, take measures,” said Duarte.
He explained that the sheriff is interfering in the cases and that merely to have the possibility a bail hearing, guarantors of the relatives must pay the 24 dollars, a small fortune given today’s economic realities in Venezuela.
The young detainees must not only face the possibility of being unjustly imprisoned for merely demonstrating against Nicolás Maduro, but also face the grim reality that their safety and health remains in the hands of police officers.
On May 16 the PanAm Post published a report with exclusive testimony that revealed that the GNB beats, kidnaps, and steals from Venezuelans who peacefully protest; but in addition they are taken prisoners. In many cases in complicity with the SEBIN (Venezuela‘s intelligence police), they ask for the familiar foreign currency to release them.
In Venezuela the only currency that can circulate freely and legally is the bolívar. The porous Colombian-Venezuelan border region has long been overrun with smuggling and criminal activity.
In Venezuela’s sad new reality of hyperinflation and socialist mismanagement, the stable Colombian peso appears to be emerging as a viable currency for every day use.