Until June 2021, news about Naib Bukel could have been more than just bites on the radar screens of many cryptocurrency users. Instead, El Salvador’s president made headlines over allegations of corruption and dictatorial behavior after the party’s parliamentary majority fired five members of the country’s Supreme Court and the attorney general.
During the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, Bukele impressed many attendees and drew international attention by announcing that he plans to force El Salvador to use Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender. Within a week, most of El Salvador’s legislature – most members of the Bukele party itself – passed the Bitcoin Law, which requires all companies to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment along with the US dollar.
It looks like Bukele’s involvement in the rollout of the cryptocurrency exceeds what many would expect from a global leader. El Salvador’s president was already active on social media and presented himself differently from many politicians, often wearing baseball caps and jeans. Since the bitcoin law went into effect in September, he has used his Twitter account to announce several BTC purchases totaling 1,391 BTC – over $ 71 million, likely from El Salvador’s national treasury. He also proposed allowing the country to use the geothermal energy of volcanoes for cryptocurrency mining.
Opposition to bitcoin law manifests itself at the local level in the form of public statements by lawmakers not affiliated with the Bukele political party, as well as protests in San Salvador. Before the law went into effect on September 7, a group of retirees, veterans, retirees with disabilities and workers marched through the capital to voice their concerns about cryptocurrency instability and how bitcoin law might affect their pensions. Demonstrators, calling themselves “Popular Resistance” and “Bloc of Rebellion”, carried posters in the streets that read “No to Bitcoin” and called for the repeal of the law.
Officials outside Bukele’s sphere of influence are also skeptical about the start of implementation. In June, US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland urged El Salvador to “scrutinize” bitcoin to make sure its cryptocurrency is “well regulated” and “transparent” and that the government is protecting “from intruders.” The International Monetary Fund issued a warning of its own in July, stating that the consequences of the country’s use of bitcoin as its national currency “could be dangerous.”
In addition to helping to create a regulatory framework for the introduction of bitcoin payments, Bukele encouraged the creation of the necessary infrastructure for Salvadoran merchants and ordinary citizens to use cryptocurrency. The country already has Bitcoin Beach, an area in the village of El Zonte where bitcoins can use cryptocurrency to pay for anything from electricity bills to tacos. Officials also oversaw the installation of hundreds of Chivo ATMs, allowing Salvadorans to withdraw cash 24 hours a day without paying fees for their cryptocurrency.
One of the statements that could become Bukele’s most ambitious cryptocurrency in 2021 was the creation of Bitcoin City, which was originally funded by $ 1 billion of BTC bonds. Crypto exchange Bitfinex and Blockstream have already said they plan to support the initiative, which allegedly does not target capital gains, income, or payroll taxes.
Criticism of Bukele’s decision as notoriously authoritarian has been diminished by Bitcoin law enforcement, but coverage has often been linked to his claims of “scuba shopping” referring to Bitcoin’s 24-hour news network and other onshore cryptocurrency-related events. Little is said that the president has gone beyond identifying himself as the world’s toughest dictator — he later changed his Twitter biography to “Chief Executive Officer of El Salvador.”
Before the bitcoin law was passed, police arrested a resident of San Salvador who opposed the state’s use of bitcoin as legal tender. In October, after several protests against Bukele’s policies, the government banned gatherings, saying its actions were aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, but still listed sports and cultural events as exceptions.
said Tommy Vietor, political commentator for Kornet Saved the World. “El Salvador committed] one of the largest murders in the world. He seems to think he can get power by somehow connecting an Apple charger to a volcano. Don’t try to sell us a technological utopia caused by volcanoes – let’s just start with a little less. ”