Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wants his own version of Bitcoin, announcing Sunday that his socialist government will create a cryptocurrency.
Maduro said on his television show that the new "petrocurrency" will be backed by reserves in oil, gas, gold, and diamonds, Bloomberg reports. Bitcoin, the world's largest digital currency, hit new highs last week, and Maduro declared that his plan will counteract the economic disaster that is befalling the Venezuelan bolivar, which has experienced hyperinflation as the country's economy has collapsed.
Maduro blames his country's economic woes on a conspiracy to overthrow him combined with U.S. economic sanctions, but he intends for a new petrocurrency to overcome those sanctions.
The currency would help Venezuela "to advance in monetary sovereignty, carry out its financial transactions to overcome the financial blockade," according to Maduro.
"This will allow us to advance toward new forms of international financing for the country's social and economic development," he added.
The value of Bitcoin crossed $11,000 last week and has attracted major hedge fund investors, further establishing the prominence of cryptocurrencies in global markets. Some have charged that cryptocurrencies enable criminal activity, but Maduro sees it as a possibility to escape sanctions that have followed political crackdowns by his regime.
President Donald Trump declared Maduro's government a dictatorship when he announced financial sanctions against it in August.
"The Maduro dictatorship continues to deprive the Venezuelan people of food and medicine, imprison the democratically-elected opposition, and violently suppress freedom of speech," Trump said in a statement. "The regime's decision to create an illegitimate Constituent Assembly—and most recently to have that body usurp the powers of the democratically-elected National Assembly—represents a fundamental break in Venezuela's legitimate constitutional order."
Venezuela has experienced four consecutive years of economic recession, while the black market value of the bolivar sunk to far less than one percent of the U.S. dollar as of Friday, according to dolartoday.com.
Avowed Marxist and member of the constituent assembly Jesus Faria has called for changes to monetary policy that would lead to free international exchange.
A "truly free exchange market has to be established, where supply and demand meet to fix the price," Faria said.