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Tyler and Cameron Winnklevoss, who famously lost a case against Mark Zuckerberg for control over Facebook, made an $11m (£8m) investment in the cryptocurrency four years ago.

Maduro's announcement comes as the popular digital currency Bitcoin set new highs in recent weeks, garnering massive interest across the world amid speculation that it is gaining wide acceptance and may soon be treated as a valid asset by mainstream investors.

Still, the announcement highlights how U.S. sanctions this year are hurting Venezuela's ability to move money through international banks. The use of a digital currency could help to "advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade", he said.

"Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency", backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves, Maduro said in his regular Sunday televised broadcast, a five-hour showcase of Christmas songs and dancing.

They say oil is as much a curse to Venezuela as it is a blessing. "With this, we will join the 21st century". That has dragged down the monthly minimum wage to a mere $4.30.

Any involvement with these officials would prevent banks from carrying out transactions with their international counterparts due to regulations outlawing the acceptance of money tied to sanctioned officials, leading to the financial isolation of their clients.

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Venezuelans also took to social media to mock the new currency.

To get the project off the ground, the government has put together a "multidisciplinary" team of specialists in technology, economy and finance, law and currencies, among others. "This baby was born dead". "The Chavezcoin is here", Spanish economist Juan Ramón Rallo said, referencing the late socialist leader Hugo Chávez, who handpicked Maduro as his successor.

Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis triggered mainly by a fall in crude oil prices and a drop in oil production.

With the Petro, Maduro claims his regime can bypass the "economic war" being waged by these countries.

Editor's Note: Some of the statements in this report have been translated from Spanish. As the country slid into disarray, the unofficial information held that one bolivar would trade for one Satoshi, 100-millionth part of a Bitcoin.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Wednesday that he hoped that Maduro will be re-elected in 2018, the clearest sign yet that the former bus driver will seek another term despite the deepening economic crisis.


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