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Venezuela's President Is Creating An Oil-backed Cryptocurrency

Venezuela is strapped for cash, so President Nicolás Maduro is turning to cryptocurrency.

The socialist leader said the state would issue "petros," a new cryptocurrency backed by the country's oil supply. Venezuela faces hyperinflation, political turmoil and massive debt, but has the world's largest crude oil reserves.

SEE MORE: Peter Thiel's Venture Capital Company Is Apparently Big Into Bitcoin

Maduro said the petro would help challenge the "tyranny" of the American dollar; the U.S. has imposed sanctions against Venezuela, Maduro and his political allies. The Trump administration has called Maduro a "dictator."

Maduro ordered 100 million petros be issued, backed by 5 billion barrels; Bloomberg estimates the first offer of the petro digital currency would be worth around $5.9 billion.

Late last year, Venezuela was forced to restructure parts of its roughly $140 billion in debt. It's speculated the country's central bank has only $10 billion, and up to half of that is thought to be in illiquid assets like gold.

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