When the coronavirus made its way from China to the rest of the world, Italy was one of the first and one of the worst countries hit. The world watched on in fear and shock as hospitals became full beyond capacity, people were forced to stay in their houses and normal life came to a halt. At the time the world wondered if other countries would be hit as devastatingly. As time has gone on we soon learned how devastating the coronavirus could be across the entire world.
A number of videos and images went viral during those early days in Italy. Some were inspiring and others heartbreaking. Of course, some were also true and many others fake. One of the best videos that went viral was of Italians on their balconies sing inspirational songs and chanting “Don’t give up” in their native tongue. News reports stated that this was happening all over the country as the people rallied together while remaining in their homes. It was an inspiring moment that showed how seriously the coronavirus needed to be taken but that we must never lose hope.
An image went viral around the same time that showed the streets littered with money. Posts on Instagram and Twitter suggested the wealthy of Italy had thrown away their money as it could not buy the health they wanted and could not get rid of the pandemic that was terrorizing them. Of course, this made no sense. The money would still be incredibly important during the pandemic and especially after. For anyone to throw their money away at that time would have been lunacy. Yet the image was shared countless times and many notable journalists even shared the images, allowing more and more people to believe.
The image was false. The images of money in the streets actually came from Venezuela. The country has had issues with inflation in the country and so introduced a new currency in 2018. The images in the streets were of the old currency being thrown away as the new currency was ushered in. That currency really became worthless while the Italian currency is still worth a lot.
The Venezuelans had to change their currency because of the hyperinflation that was taking place in the country. The history of currency in Venezuela is one of inflation. In 2008 the original bolivar which had been the currency since 1879 was replaced by the bolivar fuerte at a rate of 1000 bolivars to 1 bolivar fuerte. In 2018 the bf was then replaced by the bolivar soberano at a rate of 100,000 bolivar fuertes to 1 bolivar soberano. Clearly the solution in 2008 did not work. To date, reports suggest that the new currency has not solved the issue of hyperinflation.
The idea that Italian people would abandon their money and throw in the streets in the face of a crisis is both ridiculous and worrying. It highlights the extreme reactions to the pandemic that are not warranted. The pandemic is a serious disease that is devastating many nations but we as a nation will get through this. Many of us will lose jobs, some will lose lives, but we must look ahead to the time following the pandemic and ensure that we can pick up the pieces once again.
The true image that was shared is also a sad one. Venezuela’s economy has gone through numerous challenges and the country is dealing with both the economic devastation and the pandemic. It is a country that is suffering and hopefully, some good news can come soon.
The lesson for us all is as it always has been, check the source of an image or video before you share it, and always read into the details.