Maduro Clings to Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency Idea Despite Parliament Snub

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke at a meeting of Caribbean and South American countries, pleading with them to adopt the Petro after it was shot down by the country's parliament only days ago.

A debate in the Venezuelan parliament resulted in a rejection of the oil-backed cryptocurrency that President Nicolas Maduro has proposed. However, the head of state refuses to back down and is now asking other nations to follow his example.

Speaking to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, Treaty of Commerce of the Peoples (Alba-TCP), he insisted that the cryptocurrency—called the Petro—would allow countries to “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”

Alba-TCP is a group founded by late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to establish a community of ideologically-linked nations.

Its members include Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Venezuela.

In his address, Maduro pleaded with the alliance members to “assume together the creation of the cryptocurrency, the Petro” as a symbolic “integration currency of our peoples.” He went on to call this an “integration of the 21st century in a bold way, but also in a creative way.”

Only five days ago, Maduro’s hopes of creating the Petro were dashed by the country’s parliament, which said the currency was illegal and unconstitutional.

The reasoning provided by legislator Jorge Millan is that “this is not a cryptocurrency, this is a forward sale of Venezuelan oil. It is tailor-made for corruption.”

Millan has further explained that the cryptocurrency will not do anything to solve the unprecedented and rampant poverty that resulted from the inflation of Venezuela’s Bolivar.

Maduro’s speech to Alba might be his last-ditch effort to overcome the opposition he faces from his own government. 

He may be thinking that if he manages to garner support from other nations in the bloc, the vision of the Petro will not die. The parliament could come under public pressure to revive the discussion.