Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has come out strongly against United States President Donald Trump’s latest sanctions on the South American country. These prohibit “all transactions” with “any digital currency” issued by the Venezuelan government — alluding to the cryptocurrency promoted by the Venezuelan authorities, known as “Petro”.
In a March 19 statement, Maduro said he “energetically rejects and condemns the new unilateral sanctions of the Donald Trump regime against the Venezuelan people and our financial and economic system”.
Maduro’s statement said these sanctions violate the United Nations charter agreement, Venezuela’s sovereignty and represent a “new imperial aggression and intensify the ... economic ... attack on Venezuela”.
Maduro also said that the sale of Petro, backed by 5 billion barrels of the country’s oil, “will allow the country to break the shackles of the [US] dollar and open the doors towards the firm consolidation of the prosperity of our economic and production system”.
Earlier that day, Trump issued an executive order that immediately “prohibits ... all related transactions, the provision of financing and other transactions by a person from the United States or within the United States, with any digital currency that has been issued by, for or on behalf of the government of Venezuela as of January 9, 2018”.
Trump and other critics have claimed the Petro is unreliable. Yet in presales alone, Venezuela has already made more than US$5 billion dollars.
The Petro, which was made available for presale on February 20, is being used specifically to counter US-imposed sanctions and the economic war waged by Washington.
Last month, Maduro said the new digital currency exists to strengthen Venezuela’s “monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade”. Other countries subject to US sanctions are now considering launching their own cryptocurrencies.
Data released by Carlos Vargas, Venezuela’s Superintendent of Cryptocurrency and Related Activities, shows that more than 83,000 persons in 127 countries have made certified purchase offers for the state’s cryptocurrency.
Maduro also said Venezuela was preparing a new cryptocurrency called “Petro gold” that will be backed by precious metals.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]