Venezuela Inteligente, a digital rights advocacy group, has given a public statement. This statement claims that the government of Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has started to deny its citizens access to MercaDolar and Coinbase. MercaDolar stands as a fiat remittance platform, with Coinbase being one of the largest crypto exchanges in the US.
— VE sin Filtro (@vesinfiltro) September 9, 2020
Citing Previous Precedent
Inteligente stated that the move itself was discovered late Tuesday, and has no clear objective or outcome behind it. However, the group has made it clear that the country’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) stand as part of this move to block access to these two platforms.
Andres E. Azpurua stands as the Director of Venezuela Inteligente, and gave a statement about the matter at large. Azpurua made it clear that crypto exchanges had already seen themselves blocked from the country in the past, but all of them were lifted, until recently. He highlighted how the ISPs block access by way of a DNS block.
Azpurua made it clear, however, that it’s particularly concerning why the Venezuelan government had opted to block access to Coinbase, in particular. He highlighted that there is a vast array of crypto exchanges that Venezuelan citizens can access, so the motivations of singling out the San Francisco-based exchange is quite unclear.
On the 28th of August, 2020, Venezuela had its ISPs block to major private networks: Psiphon and TunnelBear. These services allow users to bypass DNS blocks, but it seems that the impact on both of these services’ functionalities has only been minor.
Political Tensions On The Rise
The country has seen massive amounts of political tension boil to the surface. This is due to the country’s self-proclaimed interim President and opposition leader, Juan Guaido, announcing a “Unitary Pact” with other political parties in a bid to overthrow the country’s current President.
This unitary pact, in turn, is making demands to increase the international pressure laid against Maduro. This stands as the congressional elections of the country, scheduled for December of this year.
It’s speculated that the blocking stands as an attempt to control who received what type of funding within the country’s currently politically charged climate, but the hard facts are unclear. While trying to control the flow of capital seems likely, it’s strange to block only one serve in two different financial spaces.
Venezuela is reaching a boiling point, with its political tensions coming to a head. It’s unclear how the election will turn out, but one can only hope for the best.