Imagine you are part of a populist government whose far left socialist policies have led your country to such economic ruin that some ordinary citizens are now turning to cryptocurrencies to protect their remaining wealth. You could try to restore the trust people once had in your national currency and economy or you could just decide to brand them all criminals.
Corporación Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) is a state-owned broadcaster, managed by the Venezuelan Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information, known for airing telenovelas and the late Hugo Chávez’s Aló Presidente. On Monday it published a story linking bitcoin to everything from terrorists, drug traffickers and rapists to tax evaders and international gangs.
The VTV article accuses “subversive” groups of promoting the use of Bitcoin in Venezuela, and in an accidently complimentary way gives the cryptocurrency credit for citizens’ avoidance of the draconian measures inflicted upon them. Among other things it writes: “It was recently reported that many people have begun using Bitcoin, as an alternative to evade policies on foreign exchange by the Bolivarian Government to ensure proper development of the economy.”
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In February Venezuela was crowned as the world’s most miserable economy for 2016 by the Bloomberg misery index for the second year in a row. Hyperinflation, petrol rationing and high unemployment are among the hardest issues faced by the Venezuelan people after the crashing price of oil pulled the rug out from under most of the government’s plans. President Nicolas Maduro declared an “economic emergency” in January, and according to the Bloomberg survey “a dinner for two at a nice restaurant might demand more than a month’s worth of minimum wage.”