Paper Money

Uruguay, Nicaragua produce new polymer bank notes

The first week in October saw a pair of South and Central American countries, Uruguay and Nicaragua, issue new polymer bank notes.

A pair of 2021-dated notes from Uruguay, a 20-peso note and 50-peso note (U.S. equivalents of 47 cents and $1.18) were introduced on Oct. 3, Heritage Day in the country, at the Banco Central del Uruguay Numismatic Museum. They are part of a new family of notes that differ from their predecessors in that the denominations are of different sizes rather than uniform. The change was made to make identification easier for those with vision difficulties.

They are entering circulation immediately and will circulate alongside the ones they are replacing. The designs of the old 2015 issues and the new ones are similar, but the 2021 notes possess improved security features.

They were printed by Oberthur Fiducaire.

The face of the 20-peso note has Juan Zorilla de San Martín (1855 to 1931), a political figure, newspaper man, and epic poet, recognized as the “National Poet of Uruguay.” It took him seven years to write Tabaré, an epic poem in three books, published in Paris in 1888. It tells of the struggle for survival of the region’s indigenous way of life, and its ultimate extermination.

The 50-peso note shows José Pedro Varela (1845 to 1879), a sociologist, journalist, politician, and educator. As a result of his efforts, Uruguay adopted free, compulsory, and secular education in 1876. The next year, it was because of him that Uruguay established the 1877 Law of Common Education, which continues to influence the nation today. It created a centralized, nationwide system of education that included separation into three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary; teacher training for grade school teachers connected to the primary school system; and a National Institute of Technical Education as an extension of the secondary school system.

The bank invited collectors to attend the ceremony, after which they were able exchange up to 10 old notes of each denomination for new ones with low serial numbers.

Nicaragua’s new note

On Oct. 1, the Central Bank of Nicaragua issued a 5-cordoba commemorative bank note in celebration of its 60th anniversary. The note is equivalent to 15 U.S. cents.

The new note is gray in color and measures 126 by 67 millimeters. The face has the bank’s headquarters building in Managua. The back shows a highway overpass in that city. The Las Piedrecitas Desnivel Pass was inaugurated by President Daniel Ortega in November 2018, when he said he was giving it to the families of the city, where traffic had become chaotic. No explanation was given for the unusually unexciting choice of subject. The project was funded by Japanese interests who are said to be making large investments in Nicaraguan infrastructure. The bank’s logo is prominent on both sides.

Commemorative gold, silver and nickel coins, each with a face value of 60 cordobas, were also issued.

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