According to a July 5 report by local news outlet, Cripto Tendencia, the Venezuelan minister of habitat and housing, Ildemaro Villarroel Arismendi, announced the government’s intentions to build houses for the homeless, and to fund the project using the nation’s embattled cryptocurrency, the petro.
The project is to operate under the umbrella of the country’s Great Housing Mission Venezuela (GMVV) initiative, which is reportedly aimed at providing, “homeless families a decent and accessible housing solution.” According to the GMVV website, two million homes have been provided to needy Venezuelans since the initiative’s start seven years ago.
According to Cripto Tendencia, 33 local companies have begun the technical, financial, and logistical validation process required to begin construction projects.
To fund this project, Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolás Maduro approved 75 billion bolivars (approximately $750,000) and 909,000 petros (about $6,700 US dollars at the time of press).
Villarroel Arismendi stated that as a funding source, the petro represents “a protective shield,” though it is hard to imagine how such a small sum of such an embattled currency could provide much protection.
In January, Venezuela’s Congress outlawed the petro calling it an “effort to illegally mortgage the cash-strapped country’s oil reserves,” and that the cryptocurrency is “tailor-made for corruption.”
Venezuela’s parliament cautioned investors against putting money into petro because it would be considered useless once Maduro – who has reportedly ignored the legislature ever since his party was voted out in 2016 – is out of office. The body added that the petro violates the Venezuelan constitution requirement for legislative approval of all loans.
Adding to the skepticism surrounding the petro, President Donald Trumpsigned an executive order banning American investors from having anything to do with the cryptocurrency, calling it an attempt to “circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency.”
As this is part of an ongoing project apparently responsible for the creation of 2 million homes already, and the amount of the project funded by petro seems insignificant, it is unclear why Madura or Villarroel Arismendi are so eager to make the news known. However, Villarroel Arismendi hinted that more petro-backed funding maybe soon to come:
“GMVV will have an injection of financial resources, which this year will be protected and established with Petro.”
Maduro has attempted to use the petro for projects within the country and in its cross-border dealings before. In April, ETHNews reported that Venezuela was negotiating with Russia to purchase auto parts using the cryptocurrency. A month later, it was reported that Maduro was planning on using 20 million petros to fund a bank intended to support youth projects.