Thousands demonstrated in the streets of San Salvador, on Sunday, in protest against the policies of President Najib Bukele, especially against his decision to make Bitcoin the second official currency of the country.
The demonstrators came out at the invitation of several organizations and political parties, from the left and the right, carrying banners that read “Bitcoin, fraud”, “No to dictatorship”, “Democracy cannot be negotiated, but defended” and “Down with authoritarianism”.
“People are getting tired of this undemocratic, authoritarian government,” Ricardo Navarro, head of the environmental organization Siesta, one of the organizers of the demonstrations, told AFP.
On September 7, El Salvador became the first country in the world to legalize Bitcoin, along with the US dollar, despite the strong hesitation among the population and criticism from economists and international financial organizations.
For the president and his government, bitcoin will allow Salvadorans to save $400 million in bank fees when receiving expatriate money, especially from the United States, which accounts for 22 percent of the country’s GDP.
But more than two-thirds of El Salvador’s 6.5 million residents, for the first time, opposed President Bukele’s hugely popular decision, and said in two separate referendums that they wanted to continue using the US dollar exclusively, the legal currency of El Salvador for 20 years.
The Salvadoran parliament, which has been overwhelmingly dominated by supporters of President Bukele since the last legislative elections, passed the law in June that would legalize bitcoin in El Salvador and obligate “the acceptance of bitcoin as a payment method.” The law states that the value of the digital currency will be “determined by the market”.
However, a number of economists, along with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, expressed doubts and warned El Salvador of the dangers of taking this step.
Abu Kila, who has been criticized for his authoritarianism and contempt for the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, accused the opposition of wanting to “scare” the population by criticizing Bitcoin.