Just as a truck convoy loaded with humanitarian supplies for thousands of Venezuelan families was blocked by the embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro on February 8, Bitcoin trading in that South American nation reached record levels. Since the final week of January 2018, Bitcoin traders in Venezuela have been very busy thanks to the doomed sovereign bolivar, a fiat currency besieged by hyperinflation in the midst of a dangerous political climate. On the day of the humanitarian aid blockade, VES/USD traded as low as $0.0003.
The History of the Venezuelan Cryptocurrency Market
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have been highly sought after by Venezuelans since 2016, which happens to be the last time the Maduro regime attempted to stop humanitarian aid from entering the country; back then, female activists dressed in white staged protests that eventually convinced soldiers to let the convoy pass. The repressive regime has not made things easy on digital currency holders; undercover government inspectors and informants routinely visit grocery stores and markets to check on cryptocurrency retail transactions. A new law passed this year aims to curtail the operations of digital currency exchange platforms in the country, and it also gives soldiers and police officers powers to confiscate mining rigs.