Venezuela Cuts Dollar Allowance for Florida Trips

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -

President Nicolas Maduro’s government is slashing the amount of U.S. dollars Venezuelans traveling to Florida and other popular destinations can take with them under decade-old currency controls.

Travelers just to Florida will be allowed to charge a maximum of $700 annually on their Venezuelan credit cards, and will be allowed to buy no more than $300 in cash. That compares with limits of $2,500 in credit and $500 in cash they were previously allowed for trips to Florida, an amount that will be maintained for the remaining 49 US states.

The restrictions, published Friday in the Official Gazette, follow a partial devaluation of the bolivar that has made it costlier for Venezuelans to travel abroad and which the government hopes will help safeguard a dwindling local dollar supply.

Venezuelans have been flocking to south Florida and other easily accessed international destinations to shuttle abroad as much hard currency as they can under the rigid foreign currency exchange system.

The demand for air travel has overwhelmed airlines, which are sold out months in advance, and contributed to capital flight that has drained central bank reserves by 30 percent over the past year.

As part of the new restrictions, cash allowances were also reduced for destinations such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama and Peru.

The government is also cutting to $300, from $500, the amount that Venezuelans can spend annually on internet purchases from overseas merchants.