A digital rights advocacy group in Venezuela said its government has blocked user access to two currency exchange platforms.

  • According to Venezuela Inteligente, President Nicolas Maduro's government is denying its citizens from accessing U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase and fiat remittance platform MercaDolar.
  • Inteligente said the move, discovered late Tuesday evening, has no clear outcome or objective but that internet service providers (ISPs) have been part of the move to block access.
  • "Crypto exchanges have been blocked in the past," said director of Venezuela Inteligente Andres E. Azpurua in reference to ISPs blocking via a DNS block. "Until recently all of them were lifted."
  • "Venezuela has a history of blocking exchange platforms," Azpurua added. "Especially those used to exchange local currency for foreign currency."
  • Azpurua also said the move to block access to Coinbase "particularly bothers" him as there is an abundance of crypto exchanges currently accessible to Venezuelan citizens and it's unclear why the San Francisco-based exchange might be singled out.
  • On Aug. 28, Venezuelan ISPs blocked access to two major virtual private networks – Tunnelbear and Psiphon – services that can circumvent DNS blocks, but appeared to have a minor impact on their functionality.
  • Political tensions are beginning to boil over as the country's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido announced a “unitary pact.”
  • The pact, supported by a coalition of parties, is demanding increased international pressure against Maduro ahead of a congressional election in December.
  • Attempts at capital controls over who receives what type of funding in a politically charged climate could be just one reason among many for the recent ISP blocks, Azpurua noted.

Benjamin Powers contributed reporting.

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