Ah, the beauty of sunsets on the Seychelles. The tranquility of minimalist living, of sailboats, girlfriends and cocktails… I wouldn’t give up any of these. I’ve achieved the optimal lifestyle, and all I need to keep making tons of money is my computer and good internet access every now and then. No, I don’t trade Venezuela bonds, and I am no regime-connected bolichico. I simply take advantage of gross inefficiencies in the crypto market – “shitcoins” like TRX and stupid ICOs. I have a real knack for timing the market, making money from idiots. And boy did my mouth water when I first heard about the petro.
I knew some would be excited about the first “cryptocurrency issued by a sovereign state.” This is a narrative for fools; the petro is being issued by a failed state with a hyperinflationary currency – but not everyone knows that. That’s why the government sent a delegation to Asia: crypto traders there will buy just about anything if you tell a good story (I should know!). I thought of the petro as an opportunity to buy low and sell high to irrational Japanese teenagers… Until I read the contract the Venezuelan government asked me to sign.
My first moment of hesitation came from the hassle I had to go through to get the contract. Waiting 13 hours for an email, activating my access, waiting seven more hours for another email with a broken link… If this government is so bad with something as simple as maintaining servers, I really can’t trust them to transfer PTR (a token that isn’t even developed yet). No way I’m gambling my money like that.
But it gets worse. The contract is between a buyer and SUPCACVEN, the Cryptoasset Superintendency of Venezuela. Shouldn’t I be signing contracts with Venezuela’s Central Bank, which, according to the Constitution, “necessarily and exclusively exercises the national monetary competence” (Art. 318)?
Section 4 it requires the buyer to commit, irrevocably, to acquire petros without any information on the mechanism by which the price will be determined.
The fine print also requires the buyer to assume all obligations, while SUPCACVEN assumes none – signing is no PTR guarantee.
There’s no way in hell I’d buy this, but I kept reading the contract just for fun. Sections 1-3 state the government’s intention to personally identify you. Uh, how about no? I’ve made my money staying anonymous, and I intend to keep it that way. I know what happens when you expose your identity to governments like this one – you open yourself to extortion.
Section 4 is particularly ill-intentioned: it requires the buyer to commit, irrevocably, to acquire petros without any information on the mechanism by which the price will be determined. It’s a formal and binding offer to buy petros using dollars or euros, and SUPCACVEN reserves the right to change the unit price of PTR. No clause in the contract mentions the heavily-advertised claim that each petro will be worth “the international price of an oil barrel with discount.”
Hah, okay! So if I drunkenly sign an offer to spend $100,000 on petros, SUPCACVEN can decide not to send me any, since they could always claim I didn’t fulfill some criteria. Worse, if they set the price at $100 per unit (which the contract allows), I’ll end up getting 1,000 PTR at a hugely inflated price, blowing my chance to speculatively prey on the weak. Worst of all, I wouldn’t be able to refuse, since the next section demands the buyer’s consent to automatically debit the amount he specified from his overseas bank account. That’s not all! If I disagree with the way they’ve handled things in any way, guess which courts will exclusively decide my case? Venezuelan courts!
To top it off, SUPCACVEN requires you to read all of their publications (does this include their tweets? Their retweets of President Maduro?) and “the most recent risk disclosure document”, a document that doesn’t publicly exist yet, and therefore no potential buyer could have read. So much for transparency!
I’ll stop there. My time is precious and there’s more “shitcoins” to be traded – one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I have what it takes to milk this crypto market, but the petro is so bad not even a professional scammer would buy into it. Someone this desperate for hard currency, especially a government, must be a failure.
Now, back to those cocktails…Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.