The petro was first announced in early December 2017 by President Nicolas Maduro as a way to circumvent U.S. sanctions, amid an economic crisis and a plunge in the value of the bolivar. The token is said to be backed by commodities, including oil, of which the country has notable reserves.
According to Latin American news source Telesur, 82.4 million tokens are available initially. The president has previously said that 100 million petros will be issued, valued at over $6 billion.
President Maduro was quoted as saying in a launch announcement:
“Petro is born and we are going to have a total success for the welfare of Venezuela. … The largest and most important companies and blockchain in the world are with Venezuela, we are going to sign agreements.”
A “manual” setting out how to acquire the petro will now be available in several languages, Telesur states.
The official in charge of managing the token, Carlos Vargas, reportedly said the pre-sale and initial offering will be exchangeable for “hard currencies” and cryptocurrencies, but not the comestic fiat currency, the bolivar.
While it might make sense for a cash-strapped country to try and bring in new funding via such a token sale, the petro has been controversial from the get-go.
Venezuela’s opposition-run congress declared soon after it was announced that the petro would be illegal. The legislative body argued that the issuance would effectively be borrowing against the country’s oil reserves, thus violating laws setting out that congress must approve government borrowing…