protest break out

Protests break out in El Salvador against Bitcoin as legal tender

On August 27, just a few weeks before the start of El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law, hundreds of Salvadorans took to the streets of San Salvador to protest against the country’s adoption of Bitcoin as a national currency. 

Fearful that the government would start paying their pensions in Bitcoin instead of the US dollar, veterans, retirees and workers expressed their alarming concerns against the crypto’s volatility. Bearing signs saying ‘We don’t want Bitcoin’, protestors had also stated that there is a widespread lack of knowledge about the technology involving crypto.

Stanley Quinteros, a labour union representative, told Reuters, ‘We know this coin fluctuates drastically. Its value changes from one second to another, and we will have no control over it.’

Reports from local news revealed that the anti-Bitcoin protests were a part of bigger opposition campaigns led by veterans to increase the pension from $100 to $300.

However, this is not the first protest to happen against the use of Bitcoin as legal tender. The Salvadoran Association of International Freight Carriers (ASTIC) mobilized protests to demand the Bitcoin Law’s article 7 that specifies the mandatory use of Bitcoin should be amended.

‘No Central American carrier hired by an economic entity in El Salvador will accept bitcoin as a form of payment, creating divisions in the sector for paying abroad in dollars and the national for being obliged with the cryptocurrency,’ ASTIC stated.

As a way to avoid the crypto’s volatility, the protesters also threatened to charge an additional 20% fee for clients who would pay them in Bitcoin.

In July, a protest also happened in front of Congress led by activists, unions and students. They demanded that the Bitcoin Law should be revoked since it was passed without consultation from the general public. 

In a written statement, the group expressed their dismay against the new law, stating, ‘Bitcoin would facilitate public corruption and the operations of drug, arms and human traffickers, extortionists and tax evaders.’

However, despite the backlashes and criticisms, El Salvador’s President Nayb Bukele refuses to back down with his decision. Moreover, he clarified last week that Salvadorans will not be forced to use Bitcoin.

‘What if someone doesn’t want to use Bitcoin? Don’t download the Chivo app and continue living your normal life. Nobody is going to take your dollars. Someone can always queue up at Western Union and pay a commission,’ Bukele tweeted last August 23.

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