US Lawmakers Predictably Take Aim at Petro as Iran, Russia Consider Following Venezuela’s Lead

Source:  TeleSUR
February 24 2018

marco rubio us republican senator.jpgU.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio. | Photo: Reuters

 Russia and Iran have expressed interest in developing their own digital currencies to help combat U.S.-imposed sanctions.

Democratic United States Senator Bob Menendez and his Republican counterpart, Marco Rubio, have co-authored a letter denouncing Venezuela’s newly-launched cryptocurrency, the Petro, and requesting that the Treasury Department closely monitor its progress. The lawmakers also made suggestions on the measures the agency can take to undermine the success of the digital currency, which has raised over US $1 billion for the South American country since it was launched on Tuesday.

RELATED:  Iran, Russia Consider Developing Own Cryptocurrencies

During a hearing convened by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs earlier this month, Menendez also made his intention to subvert the Petro in any way he can clear. Jay Clayton, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, and Christopher Giancarlo, Commodity Future Trading Commission chairman, declined to respond whether their agencies could undercut the Petro, Giancarlo assured that his “would certainly look at” the cryptocurrency to guarantee that it doesn’t swindle U.S. buyers.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department had issued a statement on Petro in January. It read that “a currency with these characteristics would appear to be an extension of credit to the Venezuelan government” – a measure forbidden by U.S. sanctions – and that “U.S. persons that deal in the prospective Venezuelan digital currency may be exposed to U.S. sanctions risk.”

In reference to the Petro, a spokesperson for Menenedez said: “We continue to look for ways to prevent the Maduro regime from brazenly evading U.S. sanctions and plan to follow up with the Department of Treasury following their issuing of these guidelines.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said the goal of the Petro is to combat sanctions and the “economic war” waged by the U.S. government and its junior partners against his country and advancing “on issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”

The launch of the Petro was announced in December. It is regulated by the Superintendence of Cryptocurrencies and Related Activities, as well as the Blockchain Observatory.

Russia and Iran have expressed interest in developing their own digital currencies to help combat U.S.-imposed sanctions, following this week’s successful launch of Venezuela’s first cryptocurrency. Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, head of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, said the test model for a “cloud-based digital currency” is currently under development and will be submitted to the Iranian bank system soon.

The Iranian official announced the move following a meeting with the state-owned Post Bank of Iran on Wednesday, according to NPR.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Financial Minister Simon Zerpa Delgado was in Russia this week, where he spoke with officials about strengthening collaboration and about the Latin American nation’s newly launched cryptocurrency.

Russian officials have previously exchanged ideas about issuing some kind of digital equivalent of the ruble to circumvent U.S. sanctions, according to The New York Times.
China and Singapore have also expressed interest in creating their own forms of cryptocurrency, but experts say the nations will wait to judge Venezuela’s success with the Petro before bringing their own versions to market.

Cryptocurrencies typically are not backed by any government or central bank, nor are they regulated. However, the U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission has been increasingly tracking digital currencies, classing some tokens as securities, thus making them subject to oversight.

Maduro said: “We have taken a giant step into the 21st Century… We are on the world’s technological vanguard.”

Obama Declares Cuba and Venezuela National Security Threats

The executive order allows the president to use national emergency resources to fight the threat, such as enforcing sanctions against the country.

 raul y obama in cuba.jpg

In March, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years. | Photo: Reuters

Consistent with their new strategy of planning and working for regime change in Cuba through indirect and covert means,  the US government, through President Obama, has extended for another year economic sanctions against Cuba despite abstaining recently in the vote to end the blockade at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

A national emergency

The United States declared a national emergency to deal with perceived “threats” in Cuba and Venezuela on Friday, along with Iran, Libya, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and countries Washington claims “support terrorism.” The declarations effectively extend for another year economic sanctions already in place.

RELATEDObama Declares Venezuela a Threat to National Security

President Barack Obama warned that one of the main national security threats to the U.S. is mass undocumented immigration from Cuba, days after he ended the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy, which granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the U.S. without visas, reported Sputnik.

Obama used an executive order in March 2015 to declare that the situation in Venezuela has “not improved.” He cited human rights violations, persecution of political dissenters and restrictions on the freedom of the press.

When a national emergency was declared against Venezuela in 2015, Obama also ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, saying they would be banned from traveling to the United States and any and all assets and properties belonging to them would be frozen.

Under the National Emergencies Act sanctions must be renewed every year, however, the executive orders Obama signed Friday are not set to expire until two months into the Trump administration. The move appears to suggest that the Obama administration is concerned that the renewals could get overlooked in the expected chaos of Trump’s White House. If he chooses to, Trump could rescind the sanctions by executive order.

OPINIONThe Audacity of Obama’s Farewell Address

The extension of U.S. sanctions against Iran come despite the historic agreement reached last year between the two countries. The extension of sanctions against Russia, imposed in response to their actions in Ukraine and Crimea, come amidst recent hysteria about suspected interference in the U.S. election by the Putin regime. Some have speculated that Trump’s pick for foreign secretary, Rex Tillerson, may soon move to remove the sanctions given they block a multi-billion dollar project he negotiated with Russia while CEO of ExxonMobile.

The United States currently has 31 officially declared national emergencies.

Sources:  TeleSUR, Curacao Chronicle

Russia, China, Iran Willing To Drop US Dollar From Bilateral Trade

But until now much of this was in the realm of hearsay and general wishful thinking. After all, surely it is “ridiculous” that a country can seriously contemplate to exist outside the ideological and religious confines of thePetrodollar… because if one can do it, all can do it, and next thing you know the US has hyperinflation, social collapse, civil war and all those other features prominently featured in other socialist banana republics like Venezuela which alas do not have a global reserve currency to kick around.Or so the Keynesian economists, aka tenured priests of said Petrodollar religion, would demand that the world believe.However, as much as it may trouble the statists to read, Russia is actively pushing on with plans to put the US dollar in the rear-view mirror and replace it with a dollar-free system. Or, as it is called in Russia, a “de-dollarized” world.

Voice of Russia reports citing Russian press sources that the country’s Ministry of Finance is ready to green-light a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of dollar-denominated transactions. Governmental sources believe that the Russian banking sector is “ready to handle the increased number of ruble-denominated transactions”.

Igor Shuvalov RussiaAccording to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia.

Well, if the west wanted Russia’s response to ever escalating sanctions against the country, it is about to get it.

The “de-dollarization meeting” was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, proving that Moscow is very serious in its intention to stop using the dollar. A subsequent meeting was chaired by Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev who later told the Rossia 24 channel that “the amount of ruble-denominated contracts will be increased”, adding that none of the polled experts and bank representatives found any problems with the government’s plan to increase the share of ruble payments.

For the benefit of our Russian-speaking readers, the interview with Moiseev is below and the transcript can be found here:

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Iranian Religious Leader Meets Guyana-Cuba Solidarity Group

Halim Khan y Moulana Mohammad RazaviOn Friday November 15, 2013, a religious leader from Iran, Moulana Mohammad Razavi, paid a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the Guyana Solidarity Movement with Cuba, GSMC, where he spoke with Halim Khan, president of the GSMC.  Among the issues discussed were the unjust sanctions unilaterally imposed on both Iran and Cuba by the US and the imprisonment of the Cuban Five for over 15 years now. Both men noted that fear and bullyism should have no part in modern international relations.

The double standards being displayed by the US was also raised.  While the US is offering $10m for information on anyone who carried out the attack in Bengazi, Libya, they have done nothing to those who over the years were known to have been behind the terrorist attacks against Cuba which resulted in the death of thousands of Cuban brothers and sisters.  “Even after exile militant Luis Posada Carriles bragged about his role in the Havana bombings to the New York Times in July 1998, … on Sept. 12, 1998, a heavily armed FBI SWAT team arrested the members of the Cuban intelligence network in Miami and not Carriles” said President Khan.

“Today, fifteen years later, four of the Cubans still languish in American prisons while Carriles remains free.”

Source:  Guyana Solidarity Movement with Cuba

Confronting War Today: An International Conference in London February 9

anti war speakers feb 2013noam_chomsky_60tariq_ali_60As predicted around the world, the war on terror has caused catastrophe from Afghanistan and Pakistan through Iraq and the Middle East to Libya, Somalia and beyond. The west has backed brutal Israeli salma_yaqoob_60mitra_qayoom_60rafeef_ziadah_60assaults against Palestine and is threatening further intervention in Syria and Iran.

Ten years after the biggest demonstrations in history in February 2003, the warnings of millions have been vindicated. This conference will bring together leading activists and commentators to analyse continuing Western aggression and how to confront it.

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