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News > El Salvador

Salvadorans Protest Against Legalization of Bitcoin

  • The banner reads,

    The banner reads, "No Bitcoin,no corrupt money laundering," El Salvador, September, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @bitcoinagile

Published 7 September 2021

“When buying Bitcoins, we run the risk of becoming rich and the next day being poor," protesters highlighted.

On Tuesday, Salvadorans took to the streets to protest against the adoption of Bitcoin as a legal tender in their country, arguing that the volatility of this cryptocurrency will affect their incomes.


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“When buying Bitcoins, we run the risk of becoming rich and the next day being poor," protesters highlighted, adding that this cryptocurrency also facilitates the laundering of money obtained from criminal activities by not recording the identity of those who handle it.

President Nayib Bukele promoted the approval of the Bitcoin law, which obliges to accept this currency as a form of payment so that Salvadorans living abroad would not have to pay commissions for remittances, which accounted for almost a quarter of this Latin American country’s 2020 gross domestic product.

Carlos Carcah, a professor at El Salvador's Superior School of Economics, explained that the use of Bitcoin would not affect the Salvadorans' purchasing power as long as payments with it are accepted in the same way as payments with dollars.

However, citizens fear that this cryptocurrency will be accepted as the unique form of payment soon given that the Law on Monetary Integration quickly replaced the Salvadoran colon for the U.S. dollar in 2001.

In August, Moody's and Fitch Ratings downgraded El Salvador's sovereign debt. Both rating agencies cited the bitcoin law's steep downside risks and hasty implementation.

Despite this, the Bukele administration pledged to provide US$30 to each citizen in digital tokens through a state-provided digital wallet and begun to install Bitcoin ATMs through which Salvadorans will be able to convert their digital tokens into cash, an initiative backed by a US$150 million government fund.

"I don't think Bukele has fully understood the implications of the Bitcoin law, its potential to cause serious macroeconomic problems and convert the country into a haven for money laundering," Salvadorean economist Ricardo Castañeda told The Guardian.

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