Along the cobblestone streets of the coastal city of Santa Marta, Colombia, demand for Venezuelan bolivars is soaring, but not for the monetary value of the bills
Instead of using money from his homeland to pay for everyday items in his home country, Venezuelan immigrant Hector Cordero weaves the currency into wallets and purses, which he sells to tourists in Colombia. His ingenious craftsmanship highlights the creative methods that Venezuelans are using to extract value from a currency that, in the midst of skyrocketing inflation, many consider useless.
"These notes of sovereign bolivars are worthless", she told Al Jazeera Cordero, who is from Caracas. "The notes I use are no longer in circulation since last year".
Cordero uses about 70 bills of 100 bolívares each to make a small purse, or 100 bills to make a larger wallet. A purse can take up to 1,200 notes to produce. Still, the artist incorporates 16 different denominations of Venezuelan currency into his crafts, many of them the discontinued sovereign bolívares.
Cordero sells wallets made from hundreds or even thousands of now-defunct currency notes for about $8; the bags cost about $12. He says most of his customers are European and American tourists, people who want to take home a piece of what was once one of South America's strongest economies.


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