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Since the hurdle to legalize Bitcoin in El Salvador was made earlier in the year, several countries have been trailing the progress of the nation’s approach.
As El Salvador marks the 200th anniversary of its independence from the Spanish crown, thousands of residents have taken to the streets of the capital San Salvador to protest against the Bitcoin law allegedly forced on by President Nayib Bukele. According to multiple reports, the protesters have set fire to one of the country’s newly installed Automated Teller Machine (ATM), suggesting the highest level of displeasure with the country’s new Bitcoin as a legal tender law which came into existence on September 7.
El Salvador made history with the move to add Bitcoin as its legal tender and was applauded by the global Bitcoin community. However, the latest protests in which residents carried placards reading “No to Bitcoin,” suggests the citizens are not as enthusiastic as the international community was.
The source of fury with the president may stem from other factors, most of which are centered on authoritarianism, media abuse, corruption, and general interference in the country’s judicial process amongst others. Caught amidst the country’s and governance is the effort to reinstate Bitcoin as a legal asset in the country. Since the Bitcoin law was officially enacted on September 7, there have been a number of highlighted issues with the Chivo wallet rolled out by the government.
Despite plans by the government to offer a $30 incentive to every citizen who downloads the Chivo wallet, one of the high points of the protest was the burning of a Chivo ATM, one of the outlets named after the Bitcoin wallet. While President Nayib Bukele can be commended for his roles in stemming crime to an extent, the masses are now calling on him to restore democratic order and the rule of law.
Trailing El Salvador Bitcoin Path
Since the hurdle to legalize Bitcoin in El Salvador was made earlier in the year, several countries have been trailing the progress of the nation’s approach. With Bitcoin becoming legal in El Salvador, a number of other countries including Paraguay, Mexico, Ukraine, and Uruguay are now looking to trail this path.
The fundamental difference between the El Salvador approach and these other nations is that in the former, the idea came from President Bukele, while lawmakers in the latter are the ones championing the Bitcoin bill. The implication of this is that the El Salvador approach is designed to be forceful as the lawmakers are obliged to do the bidding of the president.
To prevent the breakdown of trust as we have in El Salvador today, nations looking to adopt Bitcoin will need to chart the process in a democratic way. Irrespective of the concerns shared by El Salvadorans, the success of Bitcoin in reducing the costs of remittance in the country may serve as a catalyst for other Central American nations to follow suit.