U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on Monday, banning American purchases and use of Venezuela’s petro cryptocurrency. The order makes it illegal for Americans or American companies to engage in transactions related to that digital currency. The Trump administration has alleged that the petro is merely an “attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions.”
The new EO came on the same day that the administration implemented additional sanctions against the Venezuelan regime, this time targeting four former and current corrupt officials of that government. The Trump administration has been increasingly critical of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in recent months, citing the regime’s corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and civil rights abuses.
The response from Venezuelan authorities was swift. In a statement, Maduro suggested that the U.S. sanctions were a violation of the United Nations Charter. According to an AP report, the Venezuelan President suggested that Trump’s actions offended “the most elemental principles of international law” and intimated that charges could be levied at the World Court, alleging a “crime against humanity.”
With the launch of the petro in February, the country became the first to introduce its own version of a national cryptocurrency. However, the coin has been criticized by many in the cryptocurrency industry, as well as governments and financial institutions around the world. Some have observed that the tokens appear to be nothing more than an attempt to leverage the country’s future oil sales and raise much-needed hard currency for the government.
The executive order’s ban on U.S. purchase and trading of the petro went into effect immediately.