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18th Aug 2015

Why this Venezuelan snack has become a symbol of the country’s desperate economy

Nooruddean Choudry

It looks like an ostentatious show of wealth, and yet it symbolises the very opposite.

An image, posted by a Reddit user, shows an individual in Venezuela using a two bolivar note to hold an empanada (a pastry snack), instead of napkin…

But rather than being vulgar or extravagant, the photo encapsulates the dire straits of the Venezuelan economy.

Such is the ridiculous level of hyper-inflation in the South American country – the highest in the world – that its currency is becoming increasingly worthless.

Officially, the note in the picture is worth 20p. But on the black market (i.e. reality), it is worth less than a penny.

When you combine that with the fact that basic essentials such as coffee, cooking oil, soap, detergent – and napkins – are in very short supply in Venezuela, using legal tender to carry your snack is sadly a more cost-effective option.