As Hospital’s Crumble, Venezuela’s President Airdrops Petros to Doctors

Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and Venezuela’s sitting president, has announced a campaign to support his country’s medical staff amid the coronavirus pandemic by airdropping one Petro to each doctor.

The ‘Doctors of the Homeland’ initiative will see each Venezuelan doctor air-dropped one of the administration’s oil-backed Petro cryptocurrency tokens, as per an April 2 tweet published by a government official. 

Venezuela to issue Petro bonus to doctors

The tokens will be distributed using Venezuela’s ‘Patria System’ — a platform launched by the government to bypass the nation’s failing banking system and issue bonuses and subsidies using the cryptographic token.

Petro tokens are purportedly pegged to the price of one barrel of Venezuelan oil. Following a crash down to 18-year lows during March, the price of oil has bounced 20% in the past day to currently trade for roughly $27 per barrel.

Petro sees minimal adoption

While the Maduro administration claims that the Petro is worth roughly $60, popular trading platforms used by Venezuelans currently list the token for roughly between $20 and $26.

However, with Venezuelan monthly minimum wages equating to $3.61 plus $2.89 in food stamps, and doctors estimated to earn little more, one Petro could equate to several months of work. 

Venezuelan hospitals crumble

Maduro might have been better off handing the Petros directly to Venezuelan Hospitals, most of which are reportedly ill-equipped to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. An April 1 Vice report describing soap and disinfectant as “luxuries” at the Caracas University Hospital.

With the facility already experiencing shortages of protective equipment, many of its staff are expecting the hospital to quickly become overwhelmed as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows.

“My fear is that we won’t have supplies next week when cases are expected to spike,” said the university’s head of infectious diseases, Maria Landaeta.