A former worker of the Venezuela Mint (CMV in Spanish) -located in the city of Maracay, state of Aragua- told El Pitazo that it took three years and a half for him to find a job in the factory. He reminds that when he finally got it in 2005, he thought that his professional life would change.
However, 15 years later, now as a Venezuelan migrant, forced to leave his country due to the economic crisis, he told from abroad, in exclusive for El Pitazo, how he lived the rise and fall of the factory of coins and bills in the country. He doesn’t want to expose his name because he doesn’t rule out going back to his dream job.
The CMV is an industrial complex attached to the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV in Spanish). Its construction started in 1989 at the end of the presidential period of Jaime Lusinchi and the beginning of Carlos Andrés Pérez’s time. The factory began its operation in September 1999, seven months after Hugo Chavez started his mandate.
The former worker assures that when he started to work in the CMV, his life improves by 3000%.
“I was able to buy my apartment. Five years later, I sold it, and I bought a new one. I also bought two cars, traveled every year. There was a VIP dinner-room with its chef for all the workers. Also, we had food, transport, and toy vouchers. We had unlimited medical insurance for us, and our families,” reminds the man who worked 14 years in the factory. He says he felt in the best job of the world.
But, the lack of a coherent economic policy in Venezuela got weakened public and private companies. The hyperinflation caused that many of them went to bankruptcy, and the CVM was no exception. Since 2017, he saw how his dreamed job vanished in front of his eyes. The payroll of 600 employees began to decline dramatically. The former worker tells that every week around five and ten persons quit their jobs, most of them to leave the country.
When did the crisis begin?
The former worker pointed out 2017 like a “before and after” in the CMV. The experts agree with that date, but warning that the economic debacle that bankrupted the CMV started before that the factory began its operations.
The economist and professor, Carlos Ñañez, remember that in 2007, the Hugo Chávez government made a monetary reconversion and created a new cone which what they called the Bolívar Fuerte (Strong Bolivar). The change erased three zeros of the coin, and the money was divided by 1000.
“In economy, this mechanism is called to kill zeros and obeys to an inflationary inertial process that we dragged since the ’90s,” the expert explains.
Ñañez also said that the CMV had a notorious role because it came to produce 320.000.000 pieces per year, which gave independence to the Central Bank of Venezuela of the monetary policy.
Meantime, the economist Luis Bárcenas says that Venezuela is through an over-indebtedness since 2008, a situation that limited access to the financing markets. That is why the government started to use the BCV to finance public spending. The result of that policy is the current hyperinflation in Venezuela.
Bárcenas points out that in 2014, the imports of products reduced and that opened the way to shortages. Between that year and 2019, the government began tu cut expenses, the oil imports fell by 50% meanwhile other importations as food and medicines decrease by more than 70%. According to the experts, one of the first sectors affected was the production of the bills because they stopped buying raw material.
The economic collapse began at the end of 2017, reminds the expert. The coin stopped to circulate because the bills lost its value because of the hyperinflation.
The former worker confirmed since 2017, the factory has not issued new coins. Since then, the production of the national coins got paralyzed, and the elaboration of bills and final process works at a low level and nowadays is not operating.
What it is working is the factory of valued species (which produces safety graphic prints such as certificates,
treasure letters, stamps, passports) that was out of service because run out of raw material and re-take the operation in recent Agust.
“There was producing certificates and passports, and everything got delivered. The material came from Brazil a while ago, but it ran out, and there is nothing else to do,” the former worker explained that in this little production participated 80 workers, which mean less than 20% of the payroll. The rest of the team remained in their homes. An internal source confirmed this.
From production to import
The CMV was built on former military grounds in Maracay, central Venezuela. The architect Eduardo Sanabria design the one-level building. It has 55,800 m2 of construction made up of three factories: bills, coins, and valued species. In a press release in 1998, the BCV estimated part of the investment in $92.5 million.
On its website, the Central Bank of Venezuela stated that the start-up of the CVM would guarantee the provision of bills and coins to contribute to the normal working of the Venezuelan economy. Also, the country would have a level of autonomy, changing its status from importer to producer.
However, the reality is different. In 2016, the Nicolás Maduro government import 900 tons of bills and coins from Spain.
In April 2017, the news channel Telesur informed that the government imported 58.000.000 tons of bills. In that time, the vice president of the BCV, José Salamat Khan, declared that to that date, 13 shipments of bills to the new monetary system had entered for a total of 421.17 million pieces.
By that date, there was no raw material to make the bills in the country, and it was cheaper for the government to import them.
The former worker remembers that during the last work to the new monetary cone, they used old inks and generic paper.
The crisis arrives at the building and the workers
The money production stopped being useful, and the operational and institutional deterioration of the CMV began.
The personnel lost all their social and economic benefits. That change coincided with the arrival of a new manager that politized the organization. Even when it was a public institution, the CMV kept away from proselytism and respected the ideologies of its workers.
“Since they gave the management to a military official, the general Miguel Andri Gordillo Rincón, the institution fell apart because he wanted to militarize everything,” says the former worker.
The building also started to deteriorate progressively. The economy contraction made that the CMV dispensed of all the companies in charge of the dinner, the cleaning, the electrical maintenance, and green areas.
The former worker and the internal source agree that for more than a year, there has been a collapse in the sewage system, and the power plant does not have enough capacity to keep the company operating.
“The sewage system collapsed, and the restrooms run out of service in the whole building, and they sent the workers to their homes,” says the former worker. There was no clean smell anymore, much less freshly made bills.
The former worker treasures every moment of living with his partners in the good times of the CMV. The smell of newly printed bills will be with him forever. He feels nostalgic every time he talks about this topic. He longs to go back to Venezuela and return to what he considered the best job in the world.
By his side, the economist Bárcenas, considerate that the reactivation of the CMV is the same challenge of the recovery of Venezuela. “There is a profound financial and technical deterioration. It’s going to take a lot,” he concludes.