The president announced that it would allow Venezuela to "advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade".
The leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has announced that the country will launch its own cryptocurrency called the 'Petro' and it'll be backed by the country's natural resource reserves such as oil, gas, and the country's mineral wealth, including its gold. Many Venezuelans are struggling to meet basic needs - what good is a digital currency if it still leaves you starving?
The country is in the midst of a major economic and political crisis with spiralling inflation resulting in civil unrest, censorship and claims of violence against protestors.
The announcement reveals a novel method through which the Bolivarian Republic hopes to sidestep Canadian, European and U.S- sanctions that have been imposed on tens of top-ranking officials, making it increasingly difficult for Venezuela's to move money through international banks. Bitcoin is currently trading around all-time high levels of over $11500 levels at the time of writing. Some questioned whether the digital currency would even be introduced in the midst of turmoil. Despite not being backed by any government or physical good, it went on to surpass US$11,000 per bitcoin in late November, which proves the decentralized cryptocurrency's success. "Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency -a petrocurrency, the Petro", he said. As the country finishes its fourth straight year of recession, some voices in the ruling socialist party are calling for a more market-friendly approach.
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What's new, however, is the direct link between the Venezuelan government and a digital currency.
So far, government-led cryptocurrency experiments in Canada or China have been limited to certain types of corporate transactions and have not been open to citizens for more widespread use. On Sunday, Maduro said that Venezuela was facing a financial "world war". Should Ramirez decide to turn to U.S. authorities for protection, as many expect, he could likely provide incriminating testimony on corruption at the highest levels of the system.
If the history of economic mismanagement is any indicator of how the new currency will fare, Maduro will find the Petro very hard to sell to investors abroad.
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