OAS Head Almagro Calls for More Sanctions on Venezuela

22 February, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Cash-strapped Venezuela on Tuesday became the first country to launch its own version of bitcoin a move President Nicolas Maduro celebrated as putting his country on the world's technological forefront

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, officially launched the Venezuelan cryptocurrency, Petro, on the national and worldwide markets, as well as the issuance of certificates for the exercise of digital mining, which allows financial and commercial transactions.

Venezuela's economic crisis has largely been triggered by a slide in oil prices and production, which accounts for 96% of the country's exports.

He says he is fighting a US-led worldwide right-wing conspiracy to topple socialism and win control of Venezuela's oil wealth.

President Nicolas Maduro blames the United States and Western institutions for waging "economic war" against Venezuela.

"Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman", Maduro announced on Tuesday, referring to the U.S. as a comic character.

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Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro initially announced Petro in December 2017, planning an offering of 100 million Petro tokens, valued at $6 million American dollars.

By using a cryptocurrency, Venezuela hopes to attract global investors who would otherwise be blocked from investing in the country by worldwide sanctions, such as those imposed by the Trump administration to curb the country's access to USA debt markets.

But the US Treasury Department has warned potential investors that buying the petro may be in violation of sanctions that stop US banks from buying debt from Venezuela.

"My advice would be to tread very carefully with this - especially considering the track record of the Venezuelan government", said Federico Bond, co-founder of Signatura, a digital currency startup based in Argentina.

The use of computers for bitcoin mining has also taken off, spurred by some of the world's cheapest electricity rates and widespread desperation prompted by a recession deeper than the U.S. Great Depression.

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"They have been trying to figure out ways to get around anti-money laundering sanctions provisions, and crypto is maybe one way they can do that", Toro told CNBC.

"You can not stop hyperinflation by creating a new currency and doing nothing else", Mr. Leidenz said. It has reportedly already drawn investment from Turkey, Qatar, and other Middle Eastern countries.

But critics point out that for now sale of the petro will only be in dollars - a sign of how much Venezuela's own currency, the bolivar, has melted under four-digit inflation.

Prior to the launch, government advisers recommended that 38.4 percent of the petros should be sold in a pre-sale private auction at a discount of 60 percent.

Yet questions remain about which network the token will operate within, given that one document released today highlights the ethereum network, while another, constituting a buyer's guide, cites an alternative blockchain system called NEM.

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