Trump bans trade in Venezuelan government cryptocurrency

Trump bans trade in Venezuelan government cryptocurrency
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE on Monday imposed new sanctions against the Venezuelan government, banning U.S. citizens from dealing in the South American country's newly minted cryptocurrency.

An executive order bans "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in" any digital currency issued by or for the Venezuelan government.

The sanctions targeting the petro — the digital currency announced by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in December — have been in the works for weeks.

Trump has consistently ratcheted up sanctions against Venezuela since his inauguration, and is reportedly considering directly targeting the country's oil industry. 

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Most of his sanctions have drawn bipartisan praise — a reflection of Maduro's dim public image internationally — but critics have warned that full economic sanctions could further hurt the Venezuelan people.

Maduro in December explicitly touted the petro as a way to "overcome the financial blockade," making clear that his administration views the cryptocurrency as a way around the sanctions on many of its top leaders.

Still, world markets didn't receive the petro with open arms, as doubt was cast on the government's claim that it's backed by Venezuelan oil reserves.

“People believe it's backed by oil, but if you read the contract, it’s really not,” Russ Dallen, a managing partner at the investment bank Caracas Capital Markets, told McClatchy last week.