Venezuela's second exchange rate weakens 30 pct since March
By Girish Gupta
CARACAS, April 5 (Reuters) - Venezuela's "floating" exchange rate, renamed DICOM in a recent overhaul, has weakened to 300 bolivars per dollar, down just over 30 percent since the beginning of March.
For nearly a year, the rate remained around 200 bolivars per dollar until the government revamp in February.
The socialist-ruled OPEC nation is undergoing an economic crisis with shortages, triple-digit inflation and a deep recession.
Basic foods, medicines and many other goods are extremely difficult to find as importers say they are being starved of hard currency.
The DICOM rate is used for transactions such as credit card purchases, non-essential imports and ATM withdrawals on foreign cards - anything except some foods and medicines which are reserved for the stronger DIPRO exchange rate fixed at 10 bolivars per dollar.
However, many in Venezuela say they are unable to obtain the preferential rates and must turn to the black market on which a dollar currently buys 1,165 bolivars, according to popular website DolarToday.
Government critics are skeptical that the DICOM rate is truly floating. Its value, on the central bank's website under its old name of SIMADI, is currently 299.9898 bolivars per dollar. (goo.gl/LTkixe)
President Nicolas Maduro blames the country's ills on an "economic war" waged by the opposition and foreign foes such as the United States and Colombia.
It is on Colombia's border that the black market exchange rate is calculated by traders.
Many economists in turn blame strict currency controls in place since 2003. (Additional reporting by Daniel Kai; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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