March 12, 2008


Venezuelans taking circuitous route to get dollars (Simon Romero, March 12, 2008, IHT)

Stroll down Columbustraat. Enter the smoke-filled lobby of the San Marco Hotel Casino. Proceed up one flight of stairs to the front desk. Dial room 106. Bring a credit card issued in Venezuela.

In a desperate quest to get their hands on American dollars, Venezuelans are flocking to this island in the Netherlands Antilles to take part in this elaborate backroom scheme and dozens of others like it to get around currency controls imposed by the government of President Hugo Chávez.

"These Venezuelans come here to get their dollars, and we're happy to help them out," said Ronald Veenstra, 36, owner of a bar across from the San Marco Hotel, the Supreme Real, while mixing a mojito. "I've never poured more drinks for any one group in my entire life."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2008 3:44 PM
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