A man counts Venezuelan bolivar notes in downtown Caracas in January. Photo: Reuters/Marco Bello

Donald Trump has barred US companies and citizens from dealing in Venezuela’s crypto-currency, the Petro, reports the BBC, because the currency is, according to the president, an “attempt to circumvent US sanctions.”

Hard hitting? Well not exactly. When President Nicolás Maduro launched the Petro at the end of last month it was, he said, an attempt to “bypass US sanctions.”

Hold the front page then. Trump and Maduro in agreement shock.

Maduro said the Petro will bolster Venezuela’s crumbling economy, which has been suffering from hyperinflation for years, and claimed the state crypto had raised $5 billion in just a few weeks. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and the government says each token will be backed by a barrel of Venezuelan crude. Yet local opposition has said the Petro is illegal and also a desperate attempt by Maduro’s government to raise cash at a time when the country lacked the funds to repay its $150 billion in foreign debt.

Trump’s ban covers “all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token.”

In turn, the Venezuelan government called Donald Trump’s move a “new imperial aggression” while saying it remains committed to its “absolute and sovereign decision to continue promoting blockchain technology” to make “the Petro one of the most solid and reliable crypto-currencies in the world.”

A sentence that contains the words “Venezuelan government,” “Donald Trump,” “crypto-currencies” and “sold and reliable.” Really, what possibly could go wrong?

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