"The 21st century has arrived", he said. The country hopes that it can overcome the economic blockade which the U.S. has put on the country. Economists say cash reserves are drying up, highly skilled workers are fleeing elsewhere and foreign investment is declining.
"This shouldn't be seen as an isolated act", said Saab, adding that 15 other PDVSA managers and officials tied to the oil probe had been arrested in the past 24 hours and a total of 65 since August.
Experts and opposition figures are skeptical this new currency will fare any better than the one already destroyed by the Maduro regime.
"Venezuela is going to create a crypto currency, a petro currency, to make progress in the area of monetary sovereignty", Maduro said during his regularly scheduled weekly broadcast. After threatening digital currencies last year, the Russian government took a U-turn.
President Maduro blames the cash shortage on private bankers whom he claims are working in cahoots with President Juan Manuel Santos of neighboring Colombia, who has criticized Maduro for cracking down on democratic freedoms. For example, in a rant against Bitcoin, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon limited the users of the currency to those in North Korea, Venezuela, and to those who are murderers and drug dealers.
The Guardian reports that Venezuela's currency problems have grown so dire that ATMs now provide a daily limit of 10,000 bolívars, which is barely enough to a few cups of coffee.
Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, who led the government delegation, said the current leadership is capable of enforcing fair elections, despite charges by critics. The country's GDP has collapsed; it's only 60 percent of what it was only four years ago.
The opposition has been pushing for a fight against corruption, and now Maduro wants to appropriate that, said Alvarado, the opposition lawmaker. But the Maduro government has made no effort to change tack. Proponents of a state cryptocurrency there argue that the use of algorithms instead of banks would make transactions more efficient.
Conceptual image for worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system.
He did not, however, explain why smugglers would covet nearly worthless banknotes or why spiriting them out of the country would threaten the Venezuelan economy.
To ensure that support, military and political sources say that Maduro, who unlike Chavez does not hail from the army, has handed it more power.
Slogans that read "Maduro, murderer!" and "Maduro, dictator!" began appearing on roads and walls around the country.
President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government and the main opposition coalition resumed talks in the Dominican Republic Friday, aimed at resolving Venezuela's crushing economic and political crisis.
Still smarting from their belief the government committed fraud to pull off an unexpected victory in recent gubernatorial elections, several opposition parties are boycotting the talks as well as this month's mayoral elections.