Bitcoin has been known to thrive in times of uncertainty. In Venezuela, a country in which tensions have led to violent riots with no end in sight, Bitcoin has already played a role in helping the people, as according to a Redditor Bitcoin has given his family a way to survive in the country
In late 2014, hyperinflation struck the Venezuelan economy and authorities took a hard stance against cryptocurrencies. Bitcoiners have managed to stay afloat in the country, as they were able to use Bitcoin to buy food and groceries from other countries.
The Redditor’s family owned a successful business but, thanks to hyperinflation and government policies that prevent most from accessing foreign currency, everything fell apart and soon money was so tight food was barely affordable, even for the Redditor’s upper class neighbors. Thanks to Bitcoin, his family is able to purchase food with a stable currency –when compared to the Venezuelan Bolivar, at least.
Here’s a graph of Venezuela’s hyperinflation, from TradingEconomics.com
Amid the crisis, the country seems to be cracking down on Bitcoiners who want to make ends meet. As part of Venezuela’s attacks on the people’s money, the country’s state-owned internet service provider, CANTV, has in the past blocked several Bitcoin-related websites and mining pools.
On February 3, Venezuelan Bitcoin exchange SurBitcoin had to shut down operations after Banesco bank closed its account, and forced traders to use P2P marketplaces such as LocalBitcoins to buy the currency that would allow them to buy food. The exchange, later on, managed to resume operations. Around the same time, a mining center in Valencia in Carabobo state was also taken down by authorities.
How can it ever be justified that hard working men and women have to put with the government’s mistakes, and be forced to rebel on the streets just so they are able to survive, all because the economy has been ravaged and it is now impossible for them to feed their families in an honest way? According to Aljazeera, over 50 people have been killed during the protests.
Bolivian authorities have also arrested Bitcoiners in the country, and reiterated that virtual currencies seen as are illegal pyramid schemes in the country.
What some Bitcoiners have to face in these countries reminds me of the amazing speech from The Great Dictator, from 1940. Here’s a small section:
“For those who can hear me I say: do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.”
Right now, Bitcoin is still illegal in a few countries throughout the world, including Bolivia, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, and Bangladesh. The crisis people all over the world endure because of banks and governments playing with the value of their money is part of why Bitcoin is as great as it is.
Bitcoin is the first free market backed currency, it has no central authority. As CCN.com’s Andrew Quentson previously put it:
[Bitcoin] roars, instead, above it all, for it is the people’s voice. The people who are taking back their rights and imposing what is obviously good – the true value of market prices, free from any manipulation, guaranteed by code, governed by us all.
We’re not just dealing with a currency that disrupted the system and defied experts: there are people who need Bitcoin to survive. This, in part, is why finding a solution to the scaling debate is so important. High transaction fees are costing people, who might be risking arrest for using the cryptocurrency, food they need to survive.
Featured image from Shutterstock.