Russian Federation reportedly helped Venezuela launch its petro cryptocurrency to skirt United States sanctions

Jorge Rodriguez

Jorge Rodriguez

Adding more to the ongoing controversies, the United States government has signed an executive order prohibiting American companies and citizens from dealing in petro.

U.S. calls the digital currency an attempt by the Venezuelan government to "circumvent United States sanctions".

U.S. President Donald Trump officially sanctioned the petro Monday with an executive order barring American residents from purchasing the cryptocurrency.

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The executive order bans "all transactions related to, provisions of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital coin", issued by Venezuela's government since January, the White House said in a statement.

The government in Venezuela, led by President Maduro, has been pitching petro as one of the key instruments to boost the country's crumbling economy, which has found itself at the receiving end of severe hyperinflation and devaluation for years.

It is the first funding by the US government's main aid agency to help Venezuela's neighbors deal with the influx of hundreds of thousands of people trying to escape hunger and poverty in Venezuela.

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Time magazine is alleging that much of the work behind Venezuela's Petro cryptocurrency was done by representatives of the Russian Federation, with the distinct aim to "erode the power of USA sanctions". However, the coin has been criticized by many in the cryptocurrency industry, as well as governments and financial institutions around the world.

In February, Venezuela became the first country to launch its own digital currency, which critics regarded as a cash levy to pay off Venezuela's foreign debt of $150bn.

The crisis has posed major challenges for governments in the region, who also worry that assistance to Venezuelans could increase the number of people leaving their country. Venezuela's currency, the bolívar, has suffered from hyperinflation as a result of government mismanagement and USA sanctions.

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At Pennridge High School near Philadelphia, more than 200 students were given weekend detentions for taking part in the walkout . The Broward County Sheriff's office is not releasing its findings from its internal investigation until the case is closed.

The sanctions come before Trump's visit to the Summit of the Americas next month in Peru, where the Venezuelan crisis is expected to be discussed.

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