Venezuela Divided: Petro the Crypto, Maduro’s Quid Pro Quo
For a cryptocurrency that is still six weeks away from (likely) existing, Petro – the virtual coin touted as the liberator of Venezuela’s dismal economy – has certainly attracted its fair share of headlines. Granted, Petro is not just another run-of-the-mill ICO, and so given its novelty, each step of its development elicits widespread discussion.
The latest episode in Petro’s short yet controversial timeline took place over recent days. Unsurprisingly, at the centre of it all was Nicolás Maduro, the incumbent president of Venezuela whose term of office is set to be remembered for all the wrong reasons; be it the absurd level of hyperinflation, institutional corruption, or illegal flows of money (e.g. drug money, money laundering).
It is necessary to preface the explanation of the president’s recent actions by revealing that last Tuesday, the opposition-run Venezuelan parliament unanimously outlawed any implementation of the Petro, declaring it “tailor-made for corruption.”
More specifically, they explained how the concept of the Petro appeared incongruent with extant constitutional requirements that are needed for borrowings to be approved by the legislature.
As per normal, Maduro carried on with his own agenda, ignoring parliament’s decision that would ban the impending issuance of the natural resource-backed cryptocurrency. Indeed, the Venezuelan government made public their plans to pre-mine the supply of Petro the very next day. By pre-mining, control of Petro’s circulating supply would reside with the nation’s leaders.
Come Friday, an unrelenting Maduro made use of an ALBA-TCP meeting – which he hosted – to plead that the other 10 Latino American member nations “assume the Petro as an integration currency of our peoples.”
Maduro stressed how “imperative” it was that they support Venezuela by ensuring their “maximum priority” was to embrace the Petro. If this occurred, Maduro believed it would result in the collective ability to circumvent what he once called a “financial blockade” that he believed was unfairly imposed on Venezuela by the United States – and subsequently intensified by President Trump last August.
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