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President Nicolas Maduro has said Venezuela would launch a cryptocurrency to

combat a US-led financial blockade, although he provided few clues about how
the economically crippled Opec member would pull off the feat.

Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency ... the petro, to advance in issues of

monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial
blockade, leftist Maduro said during his weekly Sunday televised broadcast.

currency will be backed by Venezuelan reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds,
he said during the near five-hour show, which included traditional Christmas
songs and dancing.

The 21st century has arrived! Maduro added to cheers, without providing
specifics about the currency launch.

Opposition leaders scorned the announcement, which they said needed

congressional approval, and some cast doubt on whether the digital currency
would ever see the light of day in tumultuous Venezuela.

Still, the announcement highlights how US sanctions this year are hurting
Venezuelas ability to move money through international banks. Sources say
compliance departments are scrutinising transactions linked to Venezuela, which
has slowed some bond payments and complicated certain oil exports.

Maduros move away from the US dollar comes after the recent spectacular rise
of bitcoin, which has been fuelled by signs that the digital currency is slowly
gaining traction in the mainstream investment world.

typically are not backed by any government or central banks. Bitcoin already has
a strong following among tech-savvy Venezuelans looking to bypass
dysfunctional economic controls to obtain dollars or make internet purchases.

Venezuelas traditional currency, meanwhile, is in free fall.

Currency controls and excessive money printing have led to a 57% depreciation
of the bolivar against the dollar in the last month alone on the widely used black
market. That has dragged down the monthly minimum wage to a mere $4.30.

For the millions of Venezuelans plunged into poverty and struggling to eat three
meals a day, Maduros announcement is unlikely to bring any immediate relief.

Its Maduro being a clown. This has no credibility, opposition lawmaker and
economist Angel Alvarado told Reuters.
I see no future in this, added fellow opposition legislator Jose Guerra.

Maduro says he is trying to combat a Washington-backed conspiracy to sabotage

his government and end socialism in Latin America. On Sunday he said
Venezuela was facing a financial world war.