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Venezuela Makes Its Mandatory to Pay for Passport Using the Petro Cryptocurrency

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by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
Venezuela Makes Its Mandatory to Pay for Passport Using the Petro Cryptocurrency
Photo: Unsplash

Effective from November 1, the cost of issuing new passports is 2 Petros while that for the extension will be 1 Petro, said Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez

There has been a lot of news around Venezuela’s controversial cryptocurrency Petro ever since it was first announced by President Nicolas Maduro in December 2017. The basic motive behind launching Petro was to circumvent the U.S. sanctions and prevent Venezuela’s economic collapse. However, nothing seems to have worked so far as the country’s economic condition is already on a tailspin.

Last week itself, President Maduro announced that the commercial sale of Petro will start next month from November, 5. Petro can be purchased against popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum as well as against fiat Bolivar, said Maduro.

“If you have bitcoins you can buy Petros, if you have Ethereum you can buy Petros, if you have dollars or euros you can buy Petros. And from November 5, the Petro … will go on sale to the Venezuelan public in sovereign bolivars.”

Now in a further push for the Petro cryptocurrency, Venezuela has made mandatory for its citizens to pay the passport fees in Petro. Venezuela’s vice-president Delcy Rodriguez made the official announcement in a press conference on Friday, October 5.

This new rule will come into effect from November 1, just a few days before the commercial launch of Petro. The Venezuelan vice-president said that the cost of issuing new passports is 2 Petros while that for the extension will be 1 Petro. A leading Latin American newspaper El Universal quoted the vice-president saying: “In the case of Venezuelans who are abroad, until the first day of November the cost will be $ 200 for the issue and $ 100 for the extension.”

A Bloomberg report shows that the average monthly minimum wage in Venezuela is four times less the cost of the raised Petro fees.

Additionally, the vice-president has also ordered the activation of the “immigration administrative police” in the country. “The migratory police have been born to preserve citizen security and migratory control,” said Rodriguez.

Suspicion Surrounding the Actual Existence of Petro

President Nicolas Maduro launched the Petro pre-sale in February 2018 claiming that the cryptocurrency was backed by country’s natural resources like oil, diamonds, and other commodities. Soon after the launch of Petro, it has been continuously embroiled in one or the other controversy. On the very first day of the Petro token sale,  President Maduro claimed it to be a big hit claiming to have raised $735 million. However, there have been no concrete details provided by his government so far to support those claims.

Moreover, just within a month of launch, the Venezuelan Congress denounced the cryptocurrency calling it to be illegal. Much latest in August 2018, Reuters did an actual survey of the oil reserves of Atapirire, a Venezuelan town and found that there is absolutely no trade of Petro against those oil reserve which Maduro earlier claimed.

Atapirire residents claim that there are no efforts, so far, by the government to tap those reserves. A four-months thorough study by the Reuters team comes to a conclusion that there is no trade of the Petro cryptocurrency in the country. Additionally, it is also found that neither anyone, inside or outside Venezuela has got their hands on Petro, neither it is being seen trading on any of the digital currency exchanges.

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