Venezuela, the model socialist nation, doesn’t have money, food or water. Its populace is either fleeing to other countries or eating wild burros. Or fighting for food in the streets and waiting for hours on line for food. It’s facing million percent inflation. But its insane dictator, who occasionally hallucinates visions of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, had a plan, cryptocurrency.
It was what all the cool kids were doing.
The entire economy would be based around the Petro. So how’s that socialist cryptocurrency revolution going?
“There is no sign of that petro here,” said homemaker Igdalia Diaz. She launched into a diatribe about her town’s crumbling school, pitted roads, frequent blackouts and perpetually hungry citizens.
Over a period of four months, Reuters spoke with a dozen experts on cryptocurrencies and oil-field valuation, traveled to the site of the pledged oil reserves and scoured the coin’s digital transaction records in an effort to learn more.
The hunt turned up little evidence of a thriving petro trade. The coin is not sold on any major cryptocurrency exchange. No shops are known to accept it.
Senior government officials have given contradictory statements. Maduro says petro sales have already raised $3.3 billion and that the coin is being used to pay for imports. But Hugbel Roa, a cabinet minister involved in the project, told Reuters on Friday that the technology behind the coin is still in development and that “nobody has been able to make use of the petro … nor have any resources been received.”
A Socialist Potemkin Village. How appropriate.
The Superintendence of Cryptoassets, the government agency that oversees the petro, is a mystery. Reuters recently visited the Finance Ministry, where the Superintendence is supposed to be housed, but was informed by a receptionist that it “does not yet have a physical presence here.”
The Superintendence’s website is not functioning. Its president, Joselit Ramirez, did not respond to messages on his personal social media accounts. Phone calls to the Industry Ministry, which oversees the agency, went unanswered.
But it’s not like Veneuzela’s entire economy is tethered to its imaginary currency?
Maduro added to the confusion this month by announcing that salaries, pensions and the exchange rate for Venezuela’s decimated currency, the bolivar, are now pegged to the petro. That move stirred bewilderment on Venezuela’s streets and among economists and cryptocurrency experts who say the petro-bolivar tether is unworkable.
“There is no way to link prices or exchange rates to a token that doesn’t trade, precisely because there is no way to know what it actually sells for,” said Alejandro Machado, a Venezuelan computer scientist and cryptocurrency consultant who has closely followed the petro.
“The petro is being set at an arbitrary value, which only exists in the government’s imagination,” Ramirez wrote. He oversaw the nation’s oil industry for a decade under late President Hugo Chavez
There he goes, giving Bernie Sanders ideas.