By Sara Barderas (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – President Donald Trump today banned all US citizens from all types of transactions with petros, the cryptocurrency launched by Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. He also imposed a new round of sanctions against a group of government officials, reported dpa news.
“Investing in the petro must be seen as directly supporting this dictatorship,” said a senior Trump government official referring to Maduro’s government.
The executive order, signed by the president in the Oval Office shortly after noon (local), vetoes every US citizen and company from carrying out operations with all digital currency or digital card issued by Venezuela since January 9.
Trump noted the decree is an additional step in view of the “recent actions taken by the Maduro regime to evade US sanctions.”
Cryptocurrencies are virtual means of payment that allow an independent exchange of governments and banks with the participants in anonymity. The best known case is bitcoin.
Petro is the first cryptocurrency launched by a State. The Maduro government put it on sale on February 20, amid the fall in oil revenues and the difficulty in issuing new debt and refinancing through US institutions due to Washington’s earlier sanctions.
To back up the cryptocurrency, Caracas put forth a field with 5 billion barrels of crude oil. The Government of Maduro claims to have received orders to buy the petro for US$ 5 billion.
The decree signed by Trump prohibits all transactions, financing provisions and other operations related to US citizens and companies within the United States.
Washington maintains the petro was launched to circumvent the sanctions it has imposed since the arrival of Trump to the White House.
The Republican administration, however, did not give an estimated figure of how the executive order will impact the financing of the Maduro government.
Trump authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, to issue any regulation that would serve to implement the decree.
“President Maduro decimated the Venezuelan economy and provoked a humanitarian crisis, instead of correcting the course to avoid a major catastrophe, the Maduro regime is trying to circumvent the sanctions through the petro,” Mnuchin said in a statement.
The head of the Treasury is participating in the meeting of the G-20 in Argentina, where he discussed the Venezuelan issue with his counterparts from the American region and Europe.
Venezuela has become the center of Trump’s Latin American policy. Since his arrival at the White House, he has imposed several rounds of sanctions against more than fifty officials of Maduro’s political environment, including the Venezuelan president himself. It also imposed a round of financial sanctions to stifle the Venezuelan Government’s funding.
Two hours after Trump signed the executive order today on the petro, the Treasury Department increased by four the list of senior officials sanctioned. One of them is a vice minister. None of the four is related to the petro.
The Trump government keeps on the table the possibility of an oil embargo. A senior official confirmed today that the measure continues to study the variables of damage that would affect the US economy, that of the countries in the region and also the impact it would have on the Venezuelan people.
The Maduro government of Venezuela is the Castro government’s leading political and economic ally.