The tragicomedy that is the Venezuelan economy has taken a turn toward the farcical this month: Caracas’s international airport is charging customers for use of its clean air, according to the BBC.
According to the airport, passengers arriving and departing Caracas are paying for the privilege of using a state-of-the-art air purification system, which uses ozone to remove contaminants. As a result, passengers are being asked to pay between $2 and $20 — depending on which of Venezuela’s many exchange rates is used.
But the new system may be little more than smoke and mirrors. In its flailing attempt to staunch Venezuela’s economic crisis, the government of Nicolas Maduro has imposed strict currency controls that have prevented international airlines from repatriating their profits from Venezuela. That’s weighing heavily on the bottom lines of carriers like Delta and American Airlines, which have announced that they are severely curtailing flights to Venezuela. And with airlines fleeing Venezuela, the Caracas international airport is seeing its revenues decline.
The broadcaster Daniel Martinez sums up the reaction among many Venezuelans, wondering on Twitter why there is an ozone system in the airport when the toilets don’t have water, the air conditioning is broken, and there are stray dogs wandering the airport.
Me explican lo del ozono en Maiquetia? Los baños no tienen agua, aire acondicionado se daña, hay perros callejeros adentro, pero hay ozono?
— Daniel Martínez (@DanielMartinezD) July 2, 2014