Venezuelans who tried to spend their Christmas Petro bonus saw the gesture backfire after the biometric payment system that supports the cryptocurrency failed in many areas, resulting in long queues and angry customers. Newspaper El Nacional reports that chants of “we want to buy, we want to buy” even broke out in a CLAP supermarket in Carabobo state as frustrated shoppers, including pensioners, had to leave empty handed.
#3Ene “Queremos comprar, queremos comprar”, era la consigna de quienes permanecieron por horas en Supermercado CLAP de #Valencia debido a caída del sistema Petro. Muchos adultos mayores afectados por la situación. Vídeo: cortesía. pic.twitter.com/WgekbuxwJL – @lareveron10
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) January 4, 2020
Maduro Ignores the Problems
In stark contrast to the experiences of many, president Nicolás Maduro, who announced the bonus in late November, took to Twitter over the weekend to remind anyone who still believes in his fantasy that the Petro will be a “great dynamizer [sic] for economic recovery, growth and prosperity.” Presumably in a nod to the intentions behind the Christmas bonus,
Maduro is pictured standing in a supermarket, which ironically is just about all the recipients were able to do when they got there.
The economy of our beloved Venezuela has and will found in Petro a great dynamizer for economic recovery, growth and prosperity. A crypto currency that was born with Cdr. Chavez and that today moves towards the development of the Homeland. pic.twitter.com/1JN94iAb7G
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) January 5, 2020
Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional stated that as well as the failure of the Bank of Venezuela’s biopayment system, there simply are not enough terminals in the country to cope with the rollout, despite Maduro promising that 4,800 would be installed in the country. Even if the whole process had run smoothly, the Christmas bonus would only have been worth around 1.3 million bolivar ($6.25), enough to buy a few cartons of eggs.
Long queues at supermarkets are nothing new in Venezuela, as citizens try to buy what they can with the Petro before inflation hits home and increases the prices – upper estimates predicted that 2019 would see Venezuela’s inflation reach 1 million percent.
Oil for Petros Still on the Table
Reports also surfaced yesterday that Maduro was on the verge of executing an order to sell oil for Petros, a plan he outlined in December, allegedly stating that gold too would soon be redeemable for the cryptocurrency. It seems therefore Maduro is as keen as ever to force the Petro on the already suffering Venezuelan people, regardless of how ready (or not) the country is for it.