Trump Signs Executive Order Banning Venezuela’s ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency

Venezuela's government has been slowly running out of money for years. But the pace of the cash drain is accelerating as Venezuelan oil production has plummeted in recent months.

The Petro was meant to boost Venezuela’s economy, but it’s faced harsh criticism at home and abroad.

Trump signed an executive order banning US citizens from buying Venezuela’s newly created cryptocurrency, ‘the Petro’, the world’s first sovereign digital currency.

The petro, or petromoneda, launched in February 2018, is a cryptocurrency developed by the government of Venezuela. It is backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves, and it is intended to supplement Venezuela’s plummeting bolívar fuerte currency.

The measure comes after the Trump administration banned American investors from buying newly issued Venezuelan bonds from either the government or the state-run oil company, PDVSA.

The Petro has been extremely controversial since its value is pegged by the government to the value of Venezuela’s oil reserves. Legislators in the Venezuelan government have called it an attempt to “illegally” cash in on oil that’s still in the ground.

The Trump administration has been weighing sanctions against Venezuela in protest of that country’s upcoming April election, in which Maduro will seek another term in office. Maduro has been in power since he was narrowly elected in 2013 is often described as a “dictator” or a strongman in Western media.

Maduro drummed up the petro as a way for his administration to tap foreign investment amid the initial wave of US financial sanctions.

Trump’s executive order follows US sanctions he slapped on dozens of Venezuelan leaders last year, including Maduro.

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