CARACAS – Venezuela’s government is looking to overcome harsh sanctions imposed by the United States through the creation of the “petro” cryptocurrency, whose pre-sale will begin next month, officials said on Wednesday.
University Education, Science and Technology Minister Hugbel Roa said at a press conference that this digital currency had been created not only to raise badly needed hard currency but most especially to break “the financial blockade” imposed on the Venezuelan people.
Roa said the petro was “a strong currency that will ... break that whole chain of attacks” on Venezuela’s physical currency, the bolivar, whose spending power has collapsed amid a broader economic crisis.
He denied that the issuance of the petro by Caracas amounted to the sale of “new debt.”
President Nicolas Maduro’s administration accuses the US of having imposed a “financial blockade” in August, when head of state Donald Trump signed an executive order barring US institutions from involvement in any new debt issued by the Venezuelan government or that nation’s state oil company, PDVSA.
That move by the US came after the leftist Maduro government created a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) that took over the functions of the unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, the only institution in the opposition’s control.
Maduro announced Tuesday that the pre-sale of the petro, which will be backed by Venezuela’s world’s-largest oil reserves, as well as reserves of gold and other minerals, would begin on Feb. 20.
On Jan. 5, Maduro announced the issuance of 100 million petros, saying that each petro would be roughly equivalent to the value of a barrel of Venezuelan crude on the international market – currently around $60.
Four days later, Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan said the government was “illegally trying to compromise” the country’s oil reserves and that Maduro’s announcement amounted to “new borrowing” by the government, which is struggling to avoid defaulting on its heavy debt burden.
Millan also said the petro “is no cryptocurrency because it’s simply a forward sale of Venezuelan oil.”
Venezuela's Petromoneda - White Paper El Petro - 2018 (esp) by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd