FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2020 file photo, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, accompanied by members of the armed forces, speaks to his supporters outside Congress in San Salvador, El Salvador. Bukele’s party has swept all three main opposition parties during 2021’s midterm elections, giving him a mandate to change the way politics are run in the central American country. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2020 file photo, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, accompanied by members of the armed forces, speaks to his supporters outside Congress in San Salvador, El Salvador. Bukele’s party has swept all three main opposition parties during 2021’s midterm elections, giving him a mandate to change the way politics are run in the central American country. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

El Salvador president wants Bitcoin as legal tender

The U.S. dollar is El Salvador’s official currency

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced in a recorded message played at a Bitcoin conference in Miami Saturday that next week he will send proposed legislation to the country’s congress that would make the cryptocurrency legal tender in the Central American nation.

The 39-year-old president, who has maintained approval ratings above 90% and made Twitter his preferred way of communicating, characterized it as an idea that could help El Salvador move forward.

“Next week I will send to Congress a bill that will make Bitcoin a legal tender in El Salvador,” Bukele said. “In the short term this will generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy and in the medium and long term we hope that this small decision can help us push humanity at least a tiny bit into the right direction.”

The U.S. dollar is El Salvador’s official currency. About one quarter of El Salvador’s citizens live in the United States and last year, despite the pandemic, they sent home more than $6 billion in remittances.

Bukele’s New Ideas party holds a supermajority in the new congress seated May 1, giving any legislative proposal from the president a strong likelihood of passage.

Additional details of the plan were not released. But Bukele in subsequent messages on Twitter noted that Bitcoin could be “the fastest growing way to transfer 6 billion dollars a year in remittances.” He said that a big chunk of those money transfers were currently lost to intermediaries and with Bitcoin more than a million low-income families could benefit.

He also said 70% of El Salvador’s population does not have a bank account and works in the informal economy. Bitcoin could improve financial inclusion, he said.

Riding his high popularity and his party’s dominance performance in Feb. 28 elections, Bukele has concentrated power. His party’s supermajority in congress ousted the justices of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court May 1. They then replaced the attorney general.

They had been critical of some of Bukele’s more drastic measures during the pandemic, including a mandatory stay-at-home order and containment centers where those caught violating the policy were detained.

While enjoying a positive relationship with former U.S. President Donald Trump, Bukele has had a much more tense relationship with the administration of President Joe Biden.

Last month, the White House Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle Ricardo Zúñiga said during a visit to El Salvador that the U.S. government would like to see El Salvador reverse the moves against the court and the attorney general. Bukele said that would not happen.

Bukele’s concentration of power, attacks on critics and open disdain for checks on his power have raised concerns about El Salvador’s path. However, Bukele has a wide base of support in part due to the utter failure of the country’s traditional parties who ruled during the past 30 years to improve people’s lives and to his ability to provide short-term benefits.

Bukele has been praised for aggressively obtaining COVID-19 vaccines and running an efficient vaccination program far more successful than El Salvador’s neighbors.

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cryptocurrencyEl Salvador

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Most Read