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Maduro Invites Other Latin American States to Join New Cryptocurrency, the Petro

© REUTERS / Miraflores PalaceVenezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
During a meeting with high-ranking officials from the regional ALBA-TCP organization, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro urged members to join him in overcoming the “financial blockade” imposed by the US.

During his speech at the meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) on Friday, Maduro said that each petro’s value would be pegged to the country’s immense oil and gas reserves, as well as its mineral wealth, including gold and diamonds. 

The Venezuelan president said that the reason behind such an endeavor was “to advance the country’s monetary sovereignty, to carry out financial transactions and to defeat the financial blockade against the country.”

“I have a proposal for the economic teams of the ALBA: to assume jointly the creation of an oil-backed petro cryptocurrency, which will be supported with Venezuelan oil and that very soon we will sustain with the wealth of Venezuela’s gold and diamonds,” Maduro told the delegates.

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Venezuela launched the cryptocurrency in January and the president explained that it would help preserve the country’s monetary sovereignty. 

Earlier, Maduro said that his government will put together a team of specialists who will set up cryptocurrency mining sites in “all states and municipalities of our country.”

He also said that the country is facing a “financial war” with Washington after the Bolivar was hit by a near 100 percent devaluation against the dollar in 2016. Since then, inflation has risen exponentially, reaching 2, 616 percent last year.

In August of last year, Washington introduced sweeping sanctions against Caracas; barring American businesses from lending to the Venezuelan government or the state-run oil and gas company PDVSA.

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Inflation for December alone stood at 85 percent in the country, which is “greater than accumulated inflation for all of Latin America,” lawmaker José Guerra was reported by RT as saying.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but its crude output has been dropping throughout the year, as its national oil company struggled. 

The World Bank has estimated that the gross domestic product growth in Venezuela stood at —11.9 percent in 2017. It has also predicted that Venezuela’s economy will contract by 4.2 percent this year, amid extremely high inflation and political uncertainty.

Recently, international ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating for one of Venezuela’s state bonds from 'CC' to 'D', which is equivalent to default.

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