The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, officially launched the Venezuelan cryptocurrency, Petro, on the national and worldwide markets, as well as the issuance of certificates for the exercise of digital mining, which allows financial and commercial transactions.
The petro is backed by Venezuela's crude oil reserves, the largest in the world, yet it hit the market as the socialist country sinks deeper into an economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and food shortages that put residents in lines for hours to buy common products.
He says he is fighting a US-led global right-wing conspiracy to topple socialism and win control of Venezuela's oil wealth. "We won't help out a dictatorship that only cares about maintaining power on the backs of the Venezuelan people and their suffering", the party said in a statement.
"Petro is born and we are going to have a total success for the welfare of Venezuela", Maduro said on Tuesday.
The country is said to have foreign debts of more than 92 billion dollars.
But the US Treasury Department has warned potential investors that buying the petro may be in violation of sanctions that stop US banks from buying debt from Venezuela. A top official of Venezuela's ruling Socialist party yesterday proposed holding legislative elections more than two years early to coincide with a presidential vote in April.
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The presale was launched Tuesday and is planned to last into next month.
"They have been trying to figure out ways to get around anti-money laundering sanctions provisions, and crypto is maybe one way they can do that", Venezuelan journalist Francisco Toro told CNBC.
Ledezma is no longer considered a key player in Venezuela's fractured opposition, but he had been an iconic Maduro rival when he was under house arrest before fleeing the country. "The government has no plans of undertaking structural reform".
Venezuelan Cryptocurrency Superintendent Carlos Vargas last week said the government was expecting to draw investment from investors in Turkey, Qatar, the United States and Europe.
The country's cryptocurrency regulator did not provide further details but, according to Reuters, 38.4% of the petros to be issued will be sold at a 60% discount.
Sanctions levied previous year by Washington block USA banks and investors from acquiring newly issued Venezuelan debt, effectively preventing the nation from borrowing overseas to bring in new hard currency or refinance existing debt. One document highlights the use of Ethereum network while another document which is now being referred to as the buyer's guide shows the use of NEM blockchain system.