FACT CHECK: Did Venezuelans Throw Money In The Streets To Protest Health Care Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows money thrown in the streets by Venezuelans as a symbolic gesture amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The picture was taken in March 2019 after a bank robbery in Venezuela. It is unrelated to the current coronavirus pandemic.
Decades of political and economic turmoil have left Venezuela’s hospitals lacking basics such as water and soap and struggling to treat even common ailments, according to The Associated Press. The country reported its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-March and, as of press time, has at least 181 confirmed cases and nine deaths, per the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center map.
In recent weeks, multiple social media users shared a photo of money strewn on the street along with the claim that the Venezuelans who did it were sending “a clear message to the whole world that money is not enough when health is in danger.” (RELATED: Are Venezuelans Applying For Asylum Faster Than Anyone Else?)
The image, however, does not depict money that Venezuelans threw in the streets in a symbolic gesture about health care during the coronavirus pandemic. Taken in March 2019, it actually shows banknotes scattered on the ground after a bank robbery in Merida, Venezuela, according to Maduradas.
Segovia Bastidas, a Venezuelan reporter for La Septima Jornada, tweeted the photo on March 11, 2019, with an explanation that matches contemporaneous news reporting. For instance, Maduradas included Bastida’s tweet, among others, in its coverage of the incident.
Vandalizaron el Banco Bicentenario de la Av. 3 en Ciudad de #Mérida y esparcieron en la calle billetes del cono monetario viejo. Ya el estado cumple 4 días #SinLuz.@ReporteYa pic.twitter.com/OC6xnTgidX
— Segovia Bastidas (@SegoviaBastidas) March 11, 2019
The thieves left the banknotes strewn through the street after realizing they were the Bolivar Fuerte, the old currency of Venezuela that no longer has value, according to Reuters. Citizens also put some of the banknotes in piles and burned them, per Maduradas.
Other iterations of the claim have inaccurately said the photo shows money thrown on the streets of Italy.