Trump Administration Slaps New Sanctions on Venezuela

David Smolansky a leader in exile of Venezuela’s opposition in Washington DC

David Smolansky a leader in exile of Venezuela’s opposition in Washington DC

Trump issued an order on Monday prohibiting US citizens from engaging in transactions using the oil-backed currency, called the Petro. In addition, the order bars American citizens from doing business with the country.

Bitcoin and other digital tokens are already widely used in Venezuela as a hedge against hyperinflation and an easy-to-use mechanism for paying for everything from doctor visits to honeymoons in a country where obtaining hard currency requires transactions in the illegal black market.

Sec.2. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the objective of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Colleagues remember him as a spirited anti-government crusader who helped organize a caravan, known as the Trip For Freedom, in which thousands of Venezuelan exiles traveled by bus to Washington to pressure the Obama administration to slap sanctions on Maduro's government.

"This is a new expansion and prohibition from where we were before", a senior White House official said. The Venezuelan government has stated that it guarantees that it will receive the Petro as a form of payment for national taxes, fees, contributions and public services.

Gabriel Jimenez, 27, was catapulted to something of tech stardom in Venezuela last month when he stood alongside President Nicolas Maduro and two Russian businessmen on national TV signing a contract to position the petro, as the fledgling currency is known, among worldwide investors. "Instead of correcting course to avoid further catastrophe, the Maduro regime is attempting to circumvent sanctions through the Petro digital currency - a ploy that Venezuela's democratically-elected National Assembly has denounced and Treasury has cautioned United States persons to avoid".

Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito said in a statement that there is "nothing new" about the US issuing sanctions: "While Venezuela's attempt to issue a cryptocurrency is novel, there's nothing new about the USA restricting financial dealings with sanctioned countries".

But Jimenez until recently had been agitating for the very same actions to punish Venezuela's leader for jailing his opponents and destroying the oil-rich economy.

Maduro appeared on TV last month with Jimenez and Russian businessmen to sign a contract opening petro to global buyers.

Reversing to March 19 [today], the sanctions put on Venezuela's very important oil sector by the US government are being put on measure scale lately just before the presidential election.

"This is about providing oxygen to people, not the government", Jimenez said. But in response to the request for comment, an email signed by "Zeus Team" said that Druzkhov had been invited to Venezuela as an expert and Zeus is not working on the project.

The US Treasury has previously warned potential investors that buying the petro could violate sanctions that prohibit the purchase of Venezuelan debt.

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