Since its launch in February, the government has tried to push the cryptocurrency petro as the lynchpin of its economic plans: from tying it to the bolivar reconversion to including it in the price system of goods and services. They’re even forcing banks to show it in your accounts.
Make no mistake: Nicolás Maduro wants the petro to happen. But is it working?
A new special report by Reuters tries to answer that question. SPOILERS: It isn’t.
For example, they tried to verify the alleged excellent sales that Maduro boasted about on TV. When they wanted to contact the State entity in charge of cryptocurrency, the answer was:
“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.”
Reuters also tried to find petro buyers without much success, as the government doesn’t provide records. An anonymous buyer says everything went smoothly, and blames the U.S. for the petro’s bad rep, yet another feels “scammed.” Experts on the subject doubt that the currency is actually trading at all and most digital currency market sites don’t deal with petros.
There’s one exception: India-based Coinsecure, which started dealing them shortly after suffering a huge heist of 3 million dollars worth of Bitcoin. There’s more: some believe it was actually an inside job.
Meanwhile, the town of Atapirire, Anzoategui, deals with the ordinary Venezuelan pains: blackouts, decay, hunger and despair. Nothing about petros in sight, which is odd, since that’s where part of the oil reserves allegedly backing the petro are.
After its formal announcement last December, Caracas Chronicles, a Venezuelan news desk, has followed the petro, asked about its alleged premise, legal implications and even its possible guisos; they knew it was a scam and now Reuters is finding all sorts of shady bits as well.