Financial globalization has reached the world’s oldest profession in Venezuela. Since prostitution is legal there, but trading dollars is not, sex workers have been able to supplement their income by selling dollars on the black market. And by supplement, I mean more than double! Here is an article by Bloomberg on the phenomena.
Because the bolivar is pegged at an untenable exchange rate, a thriving black market exists for dollars. The article notes that “greenbacks in the black market are worth 11 times more than the official rate as dollars become more scarce in an economy that imports 70 percent of the goods it consumes.”
Economy Vice President Rafael Ramirez stated in March that “We are going to defeat the parallel dollar.” My response is two-fold: (1) no you’re not with current policies in place and a president who calls the black market “perverse” and “designed by the bourgeoisie to destroy his Socialist government” and (2) what the heck is an Economy Vice President? Given the state of Venezuela’s economy, this guy (and the Economy President) should be fired stat.
So how are prostitutes in port cities helping to abet this “perverse” market created by the bourgeoisie? Well, they charge sailors for services in dollars. And services has expanded beyond what you might expect to include things like helping “foreigners arrange rooms, telephone cards and taxis, charging them in dollars and then paying the landlords and drivers in bolivars.”
One lady broke it down succinctly, “We can make more in two hours here than working in a shop in a month.”
As a final, odd postscript, Bloomberg tried to reach various government spokespeople for comment but none of them are allowed to be named because of “internal policy” (and none of them wanted to talk anyway). Does it not seem oxymoronic to have a spokesperson for the Finance Ministry and for Maduro himself be anonymous? How do they do their speaking? through secret code left at special drops throughout the city. To be fair, if I were a Venezuelan government spokesperson, I wouldn’t want to be identified either.