In Brief

  • The Venezuelan government announced an allocation of 1 Petro for each doctor actively working in the country
  • The airdrop will be done through the Patria System
  • It is difficult for the token to be widely used because it is not yet widely adopted nationally

They say that every crisis leads to an opportunity. The Venezuelan government, which is giving every doctor in the country a Petro, seems determined to leverage the global commotion of the coronavirus to boost the use of its national cryptocurrency throughout the country.

Yesterday, the government announced via its social media accounts the bonus for Venezuelan doctors as a token gesture of gratitude for the work done to combat the Coronavirus.

The Special Bonus "Doctors of the Motherland" of a Petro, will be distributed to Venezuelan doctors via the “Patria System.” The government created the platform to help address the socio-economic conditions of the population, and distribute bonuses and subsidies, without resorting to the traditional banking system.

The long-standing—and widely criticized—practice of Nicolás Maduro's government of giving away bonuses and distributing money to the population has been emulated by several countries across the continent. Besides the United States, countries such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador have adopted policies similar to those of Maduro.

In addition to this special bonus for doctors, Maduro previously approved benefits for those Venezuelans who were not able to work due to the quarantine. The government distributed "Stay at Home" and “Discipline and Solidarity” bonuses at the end of March, though that time, they used fiat currency instead of cryptocurrency.

1 Petro equals...?

It’s hard to say what effect the disbursement to doctors will have, either on them or on the Petro’s price. Despite being sold as a stablecoin, the Petro is an especially unstable currency.

According to the government’s official figures, 1 Petro is worth $58.93 (U.S. dollar) However, in the secondary market, the token is worth far less. In Amberes  —the most popular exchange among Venezuelan Petros traders— the bonus could be redeemed for about 0.0026 BTC (about $18); at Localbitcoins it’s worth around 0.0038 BTC.

The Petro has not yet managed to position itself as the widely accepted national currency that the Maduro government intended. Tests of the integration of the blockchain into the banking infrastructure have been suspended until further notice.

Perhaps some doctors will hold onto their Petro in hopes that it will one day have more value.  In the meantime, they have their hands full fighting a contagious disease in a country especially ill equipped to handle the pandemic.