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Old December 2nd, 2016, 12:47 PM   #1
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Venezuela's currency value depends largely on one guy at an Alabama Home Depot

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The socialist government led by President Nicolás Maduro has had to contend with the collapse of oil prices, corruption and high inflation. For ordinary Venezuelans, that means their currency, the bolivar, has become mostly worthless — mostly, but not entirely. And right now, any value the bolivar does have depends largely on one guy who works at a Home Depot in Hoover, Alabama.

His name is Gustavo Díaz, and his website, DolarToday, has become a handy financial tool for Venezuelans trying to navigate the underground economy — so handy, in fact, that it affects the price of just about everything in Venezuela.


In Venezuela, the government officially sets the currency rate and it’s illegal to publish exchange rates for black-market dollars. But Díaz’s website does just that, basing the rate on actual street prices that Venezuelan consumers are paying for food, medicine, cars and everything else.

It's all about information.

“We founded this company DolarToday in 2010," Díaz explains, "as a form of protest against the dictatorship because the dictatorship was intimidating and controlling the media on all the information.”

So let's say you have a bunch of bolivars to spend. The official government exchange rate is fixed at 10 bolivars to the dollar. But according to DolarToday, the real street value of the bolivar in Caracas is much lower. It’s now well over 4,000 bolivars to the dollar.

That information shapes millions of dollars of daily currency transactions, and guides Venezuelans who buy and sell black market dollars to the tune of $15 million dollars every day.

“You can go to the website and find a calculator," he says. "You put in the amount of money you want to exchange in bolivars to dollars, you put in the quantity, and the calculator gives you that because we have the algorithms to do that.”

In addition to the online currency calculator, the website features financial news stories that you can't find in Venezuala's state controlled media.

Díaz says the website shows that the Venezuelan economy is in a shambles. He says reports that food and medicine are getting scarce are true: “People are starving. People are eating food from the trash ... sometimes eating dog food.”

Make no mistake. Díaz has long been a player in Venezuela's political opposition. When he was a Venezuelan army officer he says he took part in an unsuccessful coup against the government of Hugo Chávez.

That marked him as an enemy of the government and Díaz says, it put his life in jeopardy.

“They put a bomb underneath my car. My car exploded. They harassed my son, he was 9 years old. So I had to escape.”

In 2005, Díaz fled Venezuela and was granted political asylum in the US.

But one thing hasn't changed. He still strongly opposes what he calls Maduro's "totalitarian regime."

“The thing about DolarToday is that we’ve found out that from cyberspace we can do more harm to the regime, as a dictatorship, as a totalitarianism, than we can do from within Venezuela … so to fight the regime, because I couldn't be there, we tried to find a way to inform the people what's going on in Venezuela, because everything is controlled.”
Venezuela's currency value depends largely on one guy at an Alabama Home Depot | Public Radio International
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Last edited by Sabcat; December 2nd, 2016 at 02:11 PM.
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 02:13 PM   #2
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Mark my words, Soros will make a shitload off of it's failure, he always does.
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 02:29 PM   #3
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What should we do with the majority of idiots in the world? Bill Clinton started Workfare and that is an excellent idea but got swept under the rug by progressive Democrats.
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