In the latest crackdown on overseas digital services, Venezuela has surprisingly blocked access to US-based cryptocurrency Coinbase and fiat remittance platform, MercaDolar.
Brought to light on Tuesday evening by Venezuela Inteligente, an organization helping Venezuelans to bypass internet blocks, is that there is no clear objective behind this latest crackdown. The authorities did not even announce any of its plans to block the two platforms.
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#Venezuela blocks access to @coinbase and currency exchange platform @mercadolarinc.
This internet block is applied by most mainstream ISPs in VE using #DNS_block. Exact motivations for this block are still unclear. #internetVE #keepItOn pic.twitter.com/cJLR63Lmv5
— VE sin Filtro (@vesinfiltro) September 9, 2020
The organization also detailed that the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) are also involved in blocking the platforms as their IPs are included in a DNS blacklist.
It is to be noted that the country had blocked access to many cryptocurrency exchanges previously using the same DNS blacklisting. However, their access was granted recently.
According to Andres E. Azpurua, director of Venezuela Inteligente, the government was especially targeting the platforms facilitating the exchange of the local currency to international fiats.
Additionally, he raised concerns over the particular targeting of Coinbase as other cryptocurrency exchanges can be still accessed smoothly.
A Doomed Economy
Venezuela has been suffering from hyperinflation for years now. The country’s economy shuttered with the falling oil prices, and the socio-economic structure broke as everything was closely backed by oil.
The Nicolás Maduro-government also launched an oil-backed digital currency, called Petro, as an alternative to the country’s doomed fiat, and is aggressively pushing to make it mainstream. Last month, a majority of the Bolivarian Council of Mayors also signed an agreement to accept taxes in the state’s crypto.
Interestingly, Venezuela also blocked two major virtual private networks (VPNs) recently, but that could not prevent its citizens from accessing blocked online platforms.