Caracas, April 1st 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) The Venezuelan entrepreneur and owner of the currency exchange centre known as Italcambio, Carlos Dorado, has launched a stinging attack against the website Dollar Today, which speculates on the illegal black market exchange rate for the U.S. dollar.
In an opinion article published in rightwing newspaper El Universal, Dorado makes a public plea to have the website removed, citing the “irreparable damage” that it is doing to the country’s economy.
“I am horrified by the damage that Dolar Today is causing to our country, by presenting a fictional rate of exchange for the dollar, which isn’t based on supply and demand and which only responds to individual interests, but which unfortunately has become the go-to mark for the exchange rate,” reads the piece.
In particular, the CEO charges the website with irresponsibly speculating on the value of the dollar and attempting to sabotage the government’s latest exchange rate initiative SIMADI, which allows U.S. dollars to be bought and sold according to a price set by supply and demand for the first time since 2003.
Although Dolar Today’s official page has been removed from the web, it continues to operate on Twitter where it is currently publishing a black market exchange rate of Bs. 252 to the U.S. dollar - 60 Bolivars above the official rate of Bs.192 to the dollar at the SIMADI. Its Twitter account also provides a link to an “unblocked” version of its webpage.
“Now that we finally have a legal instrument that we can use for the supply and demand of dollars [SIMADI}… Dolar Today is killing it every day by presenting a fictional exchange rate 60 to 80 Bs. above the official one,” rages the article.
“It is shameless enough to raise the exchange rate by 60 Bolivars on a Friday and then lower it by 30 on a Saturday, when no exchange activity has even taken place,” Dorado continues, referring to patterns seen regularly on the website.
While the country’s growing inflation rate has been widely attributed to government mismanagement, in the article Dorado breaks the mould by pointing the finger of blame squarely at the website, lambasting its creators for “plunging thousands of Venezuelans into poverty” as a direct result of their actions.
Many street vendors continue to use Dolar Today as reference for the value of the imported goods which they sell to the general population, creating an increasing gap between the average Venezuelan’s purchasing power and an inflated illegal exchange rate which continues to devaluate the national currency.
“Above and beyond the profit that this might be generating for its creators or their ambitions to destabilise the economy or the government, they are seriously contributing to unleashing an inflationary spiral, which can only translate to more scarcity and poverty,” states Dorado, who is also the head of Caracas-based fashion chain, Casa Blanca.
In the final part of his article, Dorado makes a public plea to the creators of the page to remove it once and for all.
“I would like to dialogue with them and explain the irreparable damage that they are doing to the country. I am probably crying into the desert wind, but I ask them with the greatest humility in the world: remove the page “Dolar Today” from the Internet. You have no idea of the good that that would do for the country at this moment”
Dolar Today: “News without Censorship”
Since its official creation in May 2010, the website “Dolar Today” has dedicated itself to publishing an estimated “black market exchange rate” for the U.S. dollar in violation of Venezuela’s laws and exchange rate control policies.
According to the website, its creators use information on “liquid assets” available from the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) and the state of the exchange rate in the Colombian border town of Cucuta in order to calculate its black market rate. However many observers such as Dorado maintain that the calculation bears no relation to currency flows and is simply aimed at destabilising the Venezuelan government and economy.
The website also doubles up as a source of extreme rightwing “news” and radical opposition opinion pieces directed at the government, which it refers to unfailingly as a “dictatorship.”
According to their writers, official attempts to block the site from Google searches confirms the government’s authoritarian nature.
Its coverage of national politics has brought the site under fire from critics, who accuse the page of promoting an extremely irresponsible style of journalism. In particular, Dolar Today was one of the main websites to publish what were described as offensive reports surrounding the brutal assassination of United Socialist Party of Venezuela legislator, Robert Serra, last year.
Following Serra’s murder, which was later revealed to have been committed by paramilitaries, the website circulated various baseless reports claiming that the crime was related to the lawmaker’s sexuality and “African” spiritual beliefs.
Shortly following the young deputy’s memorial, the website claimed to hold evidence that he was guilty of the rape of underage boys.