Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that long-awaited salary bonuses for workers will be paid in the coming weeks, the caveat being these bonuses will be paid with the Petro cryptocurrency. However, there continues to be no indication that the national cryptocurrency is a functioning one.

Maduro said, “In the coming weeks the payment schedule of the bonuses will be fulfilled with the new salary tables set in the petro, which is from the economic recovery program that started 58 days ago on August 20 and will begin to pay all the bonuses as it should be, and if you think about the future, think about saving, think about the gold and petro savings plan.”

The reality is that there appears to be no sign of the Petro’s existence. There is a block explorer webpage which launched in early October 2018 but there are no blocks listed, only a search bar where someone could enter a Petro transaction ID. However, the format of a transaction ID is not known, making the block explorer unusable. Further, the page records the number of blocks and connected nodes, showing a block number of 137 on 8 October to 157 on 25 October. An in-depth investigative report in September 2018 found that the Petro was non-functional, which was confirmed by a complete redesign of the cryptocurrency in October 2018

Maduro calls on Venezuelan “workers” to invest their bonuses in gold savings and petro, claiming that the state is “laying the foundations of a savings plan that guarantees the worker a future”.

Venezuelans will not be encouraged to save, after years of hyperinflation that peaked this year to 172,600%, according to the Café Con Leche Index, where someone buys the same cup of coffee at the same coffee shop in Caracas to gauge Bolivar inflation, and this inflation rate is exponentially increasing. The re-denomination of the Bolivar Fuerte to Sovereign Bolivar, and the announcement that the Petro backs the Bolivar, has not slowed down the inflation rate.

It is unclear why the Petro has not become operational yet.


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