While one President launches the new cryptocurrency, another bans it. Donald Trump said the petro ban was intended to send a message to the Venezuelan government, which it has accused of corruption and repression.
The sanctions against Venezuelan cryptocurrency brought an angry response from Nicolas Maduro, who issued a statement that the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington strongly condemns the unilateral sanctions of the Trump office against the people of Venezuela and its financial and economic system.
Whether the sanctions will achieve their intended effect of destabilizing the government remains to be seen, but some experts cautioned that the moves could actually hurt Venezuelans in the short term.
Steve Mnuchin urged Mr Maduro to distribute humanitarian aid and stop blocking much-needed foreign assistance to the suffering Venezuelan people. Moreover, the US call upon the Venezuelan military to respect and uphold the Constitution.
Trump’s ban complicates the Venezuelan government’s efforts to boost its foreign reserves through a digital token. The sanctions announced on Monday notably did not include any restrictions on the oil sector in Venezuela, a drastic step that senior Trump administration officials say is still under consideration.
Rex W. Tillerson, the departing secretary of state, has suggested that Mr Trump is considering a ban on imports of Venezuelan crude to American refineries. That would be a crippling blow to the national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela since the United States is its biggest customer and few refineries outside the United States have the capacity to process Venezuelan heavy crude.