Venezuela’s crisis drains its foreign reserves

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Central bank coffers drop below $10bn for the first time in 15 years

Gideon Long in Bogotá

Venezuela’s foreign reserves have dropped below $10bn for the first time in 15 years as chronic mismanagement, corruption and subdued oil prices continue to batter what used to be the wealthiest country in South America.

The reserves stood at $9.983bn, according to figures published on Friday from the central bank, representing a 77 per cent decrease since January 2009 when they hit a peak of $43bn.

The fall comes at a time of heightened political tension. On Sunday, Venezuelans will vote in a referendum on President Nicolás Maduro’s widely despised plan to create a “constituent assembly”.