Those who protested Bitcoin this week claimed it was too volatile and would allow businesses to “launder ill-gotten money.”
Protesters calling themselves the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block have taken to the streets in opposition to El Salvador’s government passing legislation making Bitcoin legal tender.
A Tuesday tweet from local news outlet El Mundo shows El Salvadorians carrying banners saying “no to Bitcoin” in the streets of San Salvador demanding a repeal of the country’s Bitcoin law. Legislative assembly members Anabel Belloso and Dina Argueta addressed the protesters after first meeting the group separated by a barrier of razor wire.
RT @SusanaPenate: Miembros del Bloque de Resistencia y Rebeldía Popular llegaron a presentar una propuesta de derogar la Ley Bitcoin. Salen a recibirlos Dina Argueta y Anabel Bellosopic.twitter.com/CXFLDW4tsr
— Diario El Mundo (@ElMundoSV) July 20, 2021
The Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block group claimed in a letter distributed at the protest that President Nayib Bukele passed the law making cryptocurrency legal tender in the country without proper consultation with the people. It also mentioned Bitcoin’s (BTC) volatility, comparing investing in the cryptocurrency to playing the lottery: “betting on the lottery is a voluntary act, whereas Bitcoin is required by law.”
However, the group’s main complaint about the Bitcoin legal framework appeared to be centred on a perceived disparity in the cryptocurrency’s usage by the government when compared to the average El Salvadoran resident. Protesters claimed that Bitcoin “only serves a few large businessmen, particularly those with ties to the government, to launder ill-gotten gains.”
“Entrepreneurs who invest in Bitcoin will not have to pay taxes on their earnings,” according to the letter. “In addition, the government will spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money to implement Bitcoin.”
“Bitcoin would facilitate public corruption and the operations of drug, arms and human traffickers, extortionists and tax evaders. It would also cause monetary chaos. It would hit people’s salaries, pensions and savings, ruin many MSMEs, affect low-income families and hit the middle class.”
Despite being passed by the El Salvadoran government and signed into law by Bukele in June, the law recognising Bitcoin as legal currency in the country will not take effect until September 7. The protest by the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block was directed at government officials in order to demand that the law be repealed. Furthermore, the World Bank has refused to assist El Salvador in transitioning to a Bitcoin-friendly framework due to the country’s “environmental and transparency shortcomings.”
Earlier this month, during a scheduled visit by the US State Department, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland suggested El Salvador ensure Bitcoin is well regulated and transparent, but she did not explicitly oppose the country’s transition to a more digital economy. Some supporters of the law, including Bukele, have suggested that Bitcoin could aid in the facilitation of remittance payments from El Salvadorans living abroad, reducing the country’s reliance on the US dollar.