President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered the closure of the border with Colombia for 72 hours to deal with the "mafias" operating in the zone and smuggling Venezuelan currency out of the country, a measure that comes on the heels of his decision to withdraw the 100-bolivar bill from circulation.
"We're intercepting 64 million bolivars (about $95,000) that was crossing by shortcuts and roads, so I decided to close the frontier with Colombia for 72 hours ... starting now," Maduro said in a radio and television announcement from Miraflores presidential palace.
Maduro said on Sunday that criminal groups operating from Colombian border cities have been taking huge numbers of 100-bolivar bills out of Venezuela for the past two years to "destabilize" the country's economy as part of a "financial war."
He added that the situation is an attack by Colombian criminal groups and Venezuela's MUD opposition coalition "combined with international mafias via an NGO hired by the US Treasury."
Meanwhile, the US government and several non-governmental organizations operating in Venezuela are behind an attack on the financial system executed by withdrawing currency from the money supply, Interior, Justice and Peace Minister Nestor Reverol said Monday.
"These operations have also been staged in Iraq and Libya, in which they attack the currency and create a crisis to seek the overthrow of the government," Reverol said.
The NGOs, according to the official, hire criminal organizations to move 100-bolivar bills, the largest bill in circulation now, to Colombia and from there to other countries, such as Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic, where the money is stored in large warehouses.