Venezuela rolled out the design of its new currency on Wednesday,
showing off bills with images of national heroes and wild animals.
The new currency, the "strong bolivar," is to begin circulating in
January, simplifying denominations by lopping off three zeros from the
current currency, the bolivar.
South American independence leader Simon Bolivar — the monetary
unit's namesake — is pictured on the 100-denomination strong bolivar
bill and 1 strong bolivar coin.
Each bill bears a different figure from Venezuelan history on the
front, with rare or endangered animals pictured on the back, including
the harpy eagle and the spectacled bear.
The Central Bank, which displayed images of the bills and coins at a
news conference, said in a statement that the strong bolivar should
"reinforce confidence" in the currency.
The official exchange rate is fixed at 2,150 bolivars to US$1
(€.70), but in black market trading the bolivar has been weakening
against the dollar.
Venezuela has had a fixed exchange rate since February 2003, when
President Hugo Chavez imposed currency and price controls. The
government has said it is not considering a devaluation any time soon,
and that rate of the strong bolivar will be fixed as 2.15 per dollar.