Despite having more oil reserves than any other country in the world, the Venezuela, and its estimated 30 million residents, is nearing financial ruin. Lopez is under house arrest on charges of inciting violence, while Venezuela's comptroller general previous year banned two-time presidential contender Henrique Capriles from running for office on charges of "administrative irregularities" found during his time as governor.
Back in December, Mr Maduro said: Venezuela will create a new cryptocurrency, the petro, so as to advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions, to overcome the financial blockade.
The Petro is widely seen as a way to circumvent USA and European sanctions against the country, which has been wracked by hyperinflation and allegations of corruption.
The designers hope the Petro will raise the hard currency value and also act as a payment media for foreign suppliers at the present moment when most of the deals are suspended by US sanctions imposed on the Venezuelan financial market in 2017.
Cryptocurrency experts are looking at Venezuela's foray into digital currencies with a mix of intrigue and suspicion, excited by the prospect of a government willing to accept cryptocurrency for payments like taxes but also concerned about the potential lack of oversight. Because of that, it could expose USA citizens to legal risks.
Those very sanctions have allegedly rendered Maduro unable to refinance Venezuela's crippling debt burden, which, in turn, led Socialist Party officials to seek new forms of raising hard currency.
That comment came on the heels of the Venezuelan parliament rejecting the crypto idea. "Venezuela is moving forward as en economic powerhouse".
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The country's cryptocurrency regulator said last week it expects investors in the Petro from countries including Turkey, Qatar, the U.S. and Europe.
Venezuela's opposition-run parliament has expressed its disapproval of the petro and has warned investors that after Maduro leaves office, the currency would become null and void.
How could a country that is home to the most valuable commodity on the planet fall into such dire financial straits? The country has the largest crude oil reserves in the world. On today's show, we'll look at whether their rise will continue.
Still, the Maduro government is pressing ahead.
Over the a year ago, the United States sanctioned nearly 50 Venezuelans for undermining democracy, according to the State Department.
Plans call for roughly 38 million Petros to be sold with a face value of roughly $2.3 billion in private placements.