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‘Money dress’ raises awareness of hyperinflation

Katherine Hasegawa

Anglia Ruskin student’s project highlights problems in home country of Venezuela.

A resourceful Anglia Ruskin University student has created a dress comprised of banknotes to highlight the worthlessness of currency in her home country of Venezuela.

Katherine Hasegawa Perez, an International Business Management student, started the project to show how hyperinflation in the South American country has reached such levels that banknotes have become almost worthless.

Annual inflation in Venezuela is running at around 144,000% following an economic collapse under President Nicolas Maduro that has seen around three million people leave the country, the crime rate soar, and supermarket shelves emptied of goods.

This means that, according to the Bloomberg Café Con Leche index – which tracks the price of a cup of coffee served at a bakery in the capital Caracas over time – now costs around 5,500.00 Bolivares, up from 3.80 Bolivares a year ago.

The dress is made up of around 2,500 banknotes, sent to Katherine by a friend studying at Universidad Central de Venezuela, Jamy Ayala.

Katherine, 29, said: “I used about £5,000 worth of currency from 2008, but it is hard to say precisely what it is worth now – it is effectively worthless.

“I wanted to give something back and stand up against what is happening in my country. I am one of the lucky ones who was able to leave in 2015. I still have family and friends in Venezuela. I speak to them regularly – they are very heartbroken but they don’t want to worry us. They keep the hardships to themselves.”

The dress was displayed as part of the Global Week, which is organised by the Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union and celebrates worldwide diversity, with the support of the university’s Centre for Pluralist Economics.

Katherine, who is President of the Latin American Society at Anglia Ruskin, was also invited to give a speech at Cambridge Judge Business School to show the dress and appeal for ideas for economic development projects for once the current crisis is over.

She now intends to make origami birds from Bolivares with other students to express peace and solidarity and is also planning a party for Anglia Ruskin students to raise money for humanitarian aid. For more information, visit: www.ideasforvenezuela.org.