U.S. bans use of Venezuela cryptocurrency, imposes new sanctions on senior officials

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Washington said the new measure has been introduced to counter the latest attempt from the Maduro administration "to circumvent USA sanctions". He said that Petro would be backed by oil and mineral reserves. "Petro will be an instrument for Venezuela's economic stability and financial independence, coupled with an ambitious and global vision for the creation of a freer, more balanced and fairer worldwide financial system".

Trump's executive order preventing any US involvement in Caracas's new digital currency applies to USA citizens or anyone operating within the United States using the currency on or after January 9. The Petro is expected to be a sovereign crypto asset backed by oil assets and issued by the Venezuelan State led by President Nicolás Maduro.

United States citizens will be barred from purchasing the Petro as President Trump instructed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to draft the necessary legal measures.

The Treasury Department also announced specific sanctions on four additional current and former Venezuela government officials associated with government "mismanagement and corruption". The White House has also blocked prohibited US banks from purchasing new Venezuelan deb, starving Maduro's government of much-needed cash.

The South American country has been hit hard by hyperinflation and a shortage of cash.

The order comes as the Trump administration is actively exploring options to sanction Venezuela's oil sector.

President Trump himself plans to attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima next month, where his administration is likely to highlight its efforts to isolate the Venezuelan government.

The order specifically targets "any transaction that evades or avoids" previous United States measures against the government of Venezuela.

The battle between Washington and Venezuela over the currency could have a profound impact on other nations' moves to adopt cryptocurrencies to avoid sanctions.

There is no justification based in worldwide protocols between nations or of ethical solidarity among progressive and peace loving people for such illegal, injurious outside interference, threats of invasion, or regime change now dangerously underway by the US government in Venezuela. The sanctions include asset freezes against officials and the ban preventing United States citizens and companies from doing business with Venezuela.

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