Enter the PETRO

Few things are as hot today as cryptocurrencies, and chavismo sure wants in on the fun. Of course, the meaning of fun here depends on how morally bankrupt you are.

Cryptocurrencies are all the rage these days. People all over the world are getting excited about the surge of bitcoin, figuring out how to buy them — and telling their friends about it. This trend didn’t escape Maduro, and just a few days ago he announced his government would create PETRO, a cryptocurrency hecha en socialismo.

It can take long to wrap your head around cryptocurrencies, but if you learn only one thing about them, it should be that they’re parallel financial systems where transactions are unstoppable by any authority. A sweet way to avoid U.S. sanctions, right? The government sure is interested, and it isn’t wasting time. The country’s prime technical university, held hostage, is developing research and mining facilities, while two crypto-related companies are competing behind the scenes to get PETRO just right.

Launching a new cryptocurrency isn’t especially difficult; the hard part is convincing others to give you things that have value in exchange. Communists’ opinions aren’t that hot in markets, but Venezuelan oil is, so Maduro will issue pieces of paper where he promises to redeem PETRO for some of the 300 billion barrels of oil waiting to be exploited in our territory.

I know what you’re thinking: who in their right mind would trust Maduro to live up to his promise? Let me introduce you to Mr. InsaneCrypto Market:

Yes, a cryptocurrency called PetroDollar (unrelated to PETRO) went up in price more than 2,800% the day Maduro made the announcement. It crashed immediately afterwards, okay, but some people made money. The government could hold a closed sale after orchestrating a propaganda campaign, and if it’s massively successful, it only needs to work once.

Very little is known about PETRO at this point, and what I just described may not be the government’s strategy; the world’s largest cryptocurrency sale brought in $230 million – more than plenty for a business venture, but small money at state scale. The government may want Chinese and Russian citizens to buy up claims to Venezuelan oil. Perhaps if those two governments and their threats are involved, those certificates Maduro is so fond of won’t be completely worthless. He would be literally selling the country in the world’s first Initial Country Offering.

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