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Venezuela: Two Sides of the Same Coin

  • Media Lab room E15-3-341 75 Amherst Street Cambridge, MA, 02142 USA (map)

Venezuela, a near-failed state in Latin America, may be the most interesting testing grounds for blockchain use cases in the years to come. Venezuela, once the richest country in Latin America, is now in the midst of a severe economic collapse and humanitarian crisis. The country is facing runaway inflation rate of over 1 MM%, shortages of food, medicine and basic goods, and a dysfunctional, oppressive government. It is precisely because of Venezuela’s dire state that the country has the opportunity to be a milestone in the history of crypto-adoption. Venezuela could be the first country in the world to adopt crypto as a legitimate alternative to currency on a national scale.

Venezuela represents two sides of the same coin - two extreme cases of crypto-adoption on a national scale.  On the one hand, Venezuela is a crypto-dystopia where an oppressive dictator is using this technology as a way to finance his regime. On the other hand, the Venezuelan people are resiliently fighting for financial freedom, finding ingenious ways of preserving wealth through crypto adoption.

In the race of crypto-adoption and mainstream blockchain acceptance, the crypto community needs to thoughtfully consider the positive and potential negative consequences of massive adoption. In this presentation, I will give an overview of the Petro and Maduro's crypto-narco-state as well as various crypto-humanitarian projects going on in Venezuela.


Elena is the president and co-founder of Blockchain Latinx, an organization that explores what blockchain means for Latinos and for Latin America through research and community events. Her main areas of focus are crypto adoption in Venezuela and blockchain education. Elena is also the operations lead at Civil, the decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism. Prior to joining Civil, Elena graduated with an MBA from NYU Stern where she focused on blockchain and data analytics. Elena started her career at Houston's NPR/ PBS station, focusing on community outreach, nonprofit management, and fundraising.