The Spectacled Bears of Santo Cristo: 50 Bolívar Fuerte (Venezuela, 2015)-Article

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

This Venezuelan banknote represent the 5th denomination of the Bolívar Fuerte Series (2008). The 50 Bolívar Fuerte note (50 BsF) was printed from March 20, 2007 to November 5, 2015. This particular note was produced during the final printing run.

Rampant hyperinflation has caused all Bolívar Fuerte denominations to be retired. Including its successor, the Bolívar Soberano (2018). Which currently (2020) has been retired up to it's final denomination, the 500 Bolívar Soberano (500 Bs.F.).

Despite this, retired Venezuelan Bolívar have found a new home. As an easily affordable item for beginning/young collectors. These collectors often become attracted, by the colorful illustrations of Venezuela’s wildlife. Creating decorative displays, with the reverse side out. In honor of that tradition, this note will be reviewed reverse first.

The Reverse features a Spectacled Bear, also known as “Oso Frontino” in Spanish. The Reverse features a Spectacled Bear, also known as “Oso Frontino” in Spanish. Spectacled Bears are the only bears native to South America and are the continent’s largest carnivore. Although the Spectacled Bears diet is more plant based, than most bears. Usually only about 5-7% of their diets is composed meat.

They are mid-sized bears, with jet black to dark brown fur. And are known for their distinctive beige- ginger "spectacle" face markings. They live primarily in the Andes Mountains, preferring cloud forests and mountain grasslands. In the wild males on average weigh 100-200 kg (220-440 lb), and females weigh 35-82 kg (77-181 lb). One particularly large captive male weighed 222.5 kg (491 lb). Female bears often nurse between one to three cubs, with four being rare and two being the average.

Sierra Nevada National Park

The note's background is an illustration of the Laguna Santo Cristo at Sierra Nevada National Park. Founded on May 2, 1952, by decree of President Germán Suárez Flamerich. Sierra Nevada National Park was the second national park to be created in Venezuela. The park originally covered an area of 190,000 ha (469.5 acres) of the Venezuelan Andes. Although was extended on August 14, 1985 by decree of the National Executive, President Jaime Lusinchi. Currently the park covers an impressive 276,446 ha or 683113 acres.

This mountain sanctuary provides refugee for hundreds of species. Which includes Spectacled Bears, Pumas, Jaguars, Tiger Cats, Coati, Pacas, and Andean Condors. Visitors can travel to Espejo Peak (4,765 m/15,633 ft), on the popular Mérida Cable Car (Teleférico de Mérida). The world highest highest, second longest cable car ride. Or visit Tabay village, whose winding road passes by a number of mountain lagoon. The Laguna Santo Cristo is a popular location for seeing Spectacled Bears in the wild.


The vertical observe features Venezuelan philosopher Simón Rodríguez (1769-1854). Who served as Simón Bolívar's tutor and mentor. He was exiled from Venezuela, in 1797. Due to his role in the failed Gual and España Conspiracy (1797). Which inspired Simón Bolívar's own successful independence movement, against Spanish colonialism.


Despite the low value of the Bolívar Fuerte, the series utilizes numerous security measures. Both visible and virtually hidden. The Fuerte series alternates between standard and window security strips, throughout it's denominations. This denomination utilizes a windowed security strip. The strip displays "BCV50" in sequence. Every 2nd and 3nd instance of “BCV50” is mirrored. First laterally, then upside-down. The segemented "circle" above the (red) serial number, is a denomination designator. Which alternates between the denominations within the series. There is a 2-color light puzzle, below the (black) serial number. Light blue (observe) and gray (reverse) segments merge, when back lit. Highlighting a Spectacled Bear and star.


The near entirety of the note is covered in alternating lines and micro-print patterns. Where present the micro-text reads “BCV50”, in sequence. The pattern repeats on all denominations, with the exception of the number (listed denomination). Below the observe's portrait is a opened book. Overlaid by a large micro-print patterned number “50”.


The watermark features Simón Rodríguez, as seen on the note's observe. Below the watermark is an electro-typed text "50". Unfortunately the color pallet and erratic micro-print lines makes capturing the watermark difficult. Although it can be readily seen, in physical copies of the note.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 156 × 69 mm (6.14 x 2.72in), standard for Bolívar Fuerte Series.

  • Most of Simón Rodríguez's written works were stored in Guayaquil, Ecuador. But were lost when large portions of the city burned, in 1896.

  • Simón Rodríguez was exiled from Venezuela and lived under the name Samuel Robinson.

  • In 2003, the Venezuelan government enacted Mission Robinson. A volunteer program targeted at bringing literacy to Venezuela’s adults.

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