Crypto Now the Only Way Isolated Venezuelans Can Buy Passports

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelans seeking to escape their country’s hardships now face another hurdle: getting their hands on the government’s elusive Petro cryptocurrency to pay for their passports.

New passports will cost two Petros, which is equivalent to 7,200 bolivars, or four times the national monthly minimum wage, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said in a televised press conference from Caracas on Friday. President Nicolas Maduro announced a revamped Petro at an event last week almost eight months after what was supposed to be its initial launch date. The token is meant to be backed by oil and mineral reserves and is scheduled to go on sale starting Nov. 5.

Venezuelans already spend days in queues hoping to apply and secure passports since lack of materials and rampant corruption have made official documents scarce. An intensifying economic and humanitarian crisis means that an estimated 5,000 people leave Venezuela daily, according to the United Nation’s latest data.

The Petro enforcement could make it even more difficult for Venezuelans to travel abroad, with the country practically cut off from the rest of Latin America by major carriers. Avianca, Latam Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico and Deutsche Lufthansa are among a long list of airlines that have have stopped servicing Venezuela.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.