In the upmarket Sambil mall, the loudspeaker is blaring “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in Spanish as Venezuelans do their early Christmas shopping.
Zara, Ben Sherman, Mango, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, Timberland, Reebok and Guess are just some of the brands that have outlets here. In all of them, people are spending US dollars.
“Today I’m buying a blouse for my sister and a shirt and a pair of jeans for me,” said Felipe Tuesta as he queued to pay. “All in dollars. I’ve just had some sent to me from relatives who live abroad.”
Despite two decades of anti-US rhetoric from Venezuela’s ruling socialist party and concerted efforts to move the economy’s axis away from the US and towards China and Russia, the dollar is increasingly part of the fabric of Venezuelan life.