February 17th, 2012
07:46 AM GMT
(CNN) – Ten years after the Spanish currency, the peseta, was phased out, a rural town in Spain has revolted. Against the backdrop of the ailing euro, about 30 shops in Villamayor de Santiago last month began accepting the old currency, which was phased out in 2002 when Spain joined the eurozone.
According to Luis Miguel Campayo, chairman of the local merchant’s association, the move has been especially popular with older clientele, many of whom kept hold of old bills and coins in case the euro failed. "We wanted to persuade them to spend them," he told the Guardian. Shopkeepers have earned more than 1 million pesetas (about $7,900). Shopkeepers exchange the pesetas for euros at the Bank of Spain in Madrid.
The villagers in Spain are not alone. Currencies new and old have sprung up in towns in Italy, the UK, the U.S. and Mexico in the wake of the financial crisis and eurozone debt woes.
However, today is the last day to exchange the franc with the euro before the old currency loses its value.
In August, the less than 600 residents of Filettino, Italy – who opposed government cost-cutting measures forcing towns with 1,000 residents or less to merge with neighboring communities – decided to manage their resources independently from Rome – and print their own currency, the Fiorito, emblazoned with a picture of mayor Luca Sellari on the bills.
In Britain, residents of Bristol will launch their own currency in May this year, the Bristol Pound, the Dailymail reported. Over 100 businesses have already signed up to accept the alternative to Britain’s pound in a move geared to boost local businesses. That follows a similar move of residents in Lewes in Britain, who launched the Lewes Pound in 2008 to tackle soaring prices in the wake of the economic downturn.
"If you spend a pound in a supermarket," campaigner Adrienne Campbell told CNN in 2008, "it almost immediately goes out of the community, leaks away, and then isn't remaining in the community serving the local people." About 50 local traders agreed to accept the note.
A raft of U.S. cities and towns introduced similar local currencies after the credit crisis, such as the Bay Back in Traverse City, Michigan; the BerkShares in Berkshires, Massachusetts; and the Detroit Cheers.
Residents in the Mexican hill town Veracruz created the “tumin”, meaning “money” in the local Totonac language. Silva Jardim, one of the poorest towns in southeastern Brazil, encouraged its 23,000 residents last year to spend money locally with the capivaris, the local currency decorated with the face of a rodent.
In Santi Suk, a small village in northern Thailand, local residents launched their own currency in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Wall Street Journal reports. Decorating their bills with children’s sketches of water buffalos or Buddhist temples, the villagers started using the money again in 2009 when Thailand’s economy slowed down, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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