In the midst of a migratory crisis seeing more than 5000 people leaving Venezuela per day, Venezuelan vice-president Delcy Rodriguez announced that, effective immediately, passports in Venezuela must be paid for using the government’s controversial new cryptocurrency, El Petro, at a cost-equivalence of four month’s wages, El Universal reports.
The vice-president made the announcement at a televised press conference from Caracas on Friday, October 5th, and said the new requirement would be in place as of Monday, October 8th.
In addition to the new passport provisions, Venezuela is also creating a new, “migratory police…born to preserve citizen security and migratory control,” Rodriquez added.
For citizens at home, a new passport will cost two Petro, or 7200 bolivars, and a passport extension will cost half that. Citizens abroad can pay $200 USD for a new passport and half that for an extension until November 1st. Thereafter they will have to pay in El Petro.
El Petro will reportedly not be available for public purchase until November 5th.
Venezuelan officials hope their new purportedly oil- and mineral-backed cryptocurrency will help the country assert autonomy in global markets.
As well, a recent and extensive four-month investigation by Reuters seemed to indicate the country lacks the necessary infrastructure to properly implement the new currency.
Bloomberg has reported that, “an estimated 5,000 people leave Venezuela daily, according to the United Nation’s latest data,” and the BBC has reported that many Venezuelan refugees without passports have been being turned back at Venezuela’s borders with Equador and Peru though an Ecuadorian judge recently overturned that policy.
El petro has been widely criticized as yet another instance of Venezuela “printing money” to offset a deepening economic and humanitarian crises many feel was induced by bad fiscal policy in the first place.
Venezualan President Nicolas Maduro has previously blamed “imperialists” for declining economic conditions in his country, but in July of this year, online publication Al Dia quoted Maduro as telling congress that conditions in his country were his “responsibility”:
“The productive models that we have tried so far have failed, and the responsibility is ours. It is mine…The imperialism assaults us? Enough of whining (…). You will not see me whining to myself. I do not blame them anymore. You do not see me whining in front of imperialism. Let them attacks us. It is up to us whether to act with aggression or without aggression.”
In July, CNBC reported that the IMF has estimated that inflation in Venezuela could top one-million-percent by year’s end.
As an aside, CNN are reporting today that a suspect accused of participating in an assassination plot against President Maduro this summer died Monday in, “a mysterious fall from a window.”
The death of Fernando Albán, a 56-year-old city councilor from Caracas is being qualified as a suicide.
Mr Alban reportedly fell from a tenth floor window at the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, “the country’s top intelligence agency” while he was in custody. He was arrested on October 5th.