Anti-government protesters in El Salvador burn Bitcoin ATM, express anger against President Bukele

 

On Wednesday, several thousand people marched to the central plaza of the capital city San Salvador. It was the bicentennial celebrations of El Salvador. However, the citizens had much to complain about including the introduction of cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the consolidation of power by the current President Nayib Bukele; both of which have sparked widespread anger.

Although most of the protesters were peaceful, one grouped was not. They smashed windows and set fire to a Bitcoin ATM. The kiosk has been set up after the El Salvadorian government had announced that BitCoin would be a legal tender in the state along with the U.S. dollar.

The demonstrators were carrying signs that said, “no to dictatorship” and “we were defrauded by Bitcoin” expressing their anger against the current president Nayib Bukele. Some of the protesters in El Salvador also said, “No to corrupt money laundering.” Opponents say that the president has concentrated power on the presidential post as well as decreased the power of the judiciary in the nation.

Bukele’s New Ideas party won a Congressional majority this year. It brought in sweeping changes including replacements of five members of the Constitutional Chamber. It also replaced the independent attorney general who was not in resonance with the actions of the 40-year-old President.

These changes have paved the way for Bukele to stand for presidential elections, once again in 2024 although he has not as yet announced his plan. Critics believe that the changes in the constitution were made to facilitate a second term for him.

The rollout of the Bitcoin in El Salvador has also be fraught with missteps and mismanagement. A Jesuit university based in the country called the Central American University (UCA) conducted a poll that reported that 67.9 percent of the 1,281 citizens polled were against the introduction of Bitcoin.

The rollout was also mismanaged with system bugs as well as frequent periods offline. AP had earlier reported that the crashes were caused as a result of the offer of a $30 bonus as an incentive to those who adopted the cryptocurrency.

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