Salvador Melendez / AP
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) – El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announced in a recorded message played at a Bitcoin conference in Miami on Saturday that next week he will send a bill to the country’s congress that would convert the cryptocurrency. in legal tender in Central America. 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 a bill to Congress that will make Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador,” Bukele said. “In the short term, this will create jobs and help bring financial inclusion to thousands of people outside of the formal economy and, in the medium and long term, we hope that this small decision can help us move humanity at least a little bit in the direction correct “.
The US dollar is the official currency of El Salvador. About a 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 has a supermajority in the new congress that will take place on May 1, which gives any legislative proposal from the president a high probability of approval.
Bukele sees Bitcoin as a quick way to transfer billions in remittances
No additional details of the plan were released. But Bukele in subsequent posts on Twitter noted that Bitcoin could be “the fastest growing way to transfer $ 6 billion a year in remittances.” He said that a large portion of those money transfers were currently being lost to intermediaries and with Bitcoin more than a million low-income families could benefit.
He also said that 70% of the population of El Salvador does not have a bank account and works in the informal economy. Bitcoin could improve financial inclusion, he said.
Taking advantage of his great popularity and the dominant performance of his party in the February 28 elections, Bukele has concentrated power. The supermajority of his party in Congress overthrew the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court on May 1. They then replaced the attorney general.
They had criticized some of Bukele’s more drastic measures during the pandemic, including a mandatory stay-at-home order and containment centers where those caught violating policy were detained.
The president has a close relationship with the Biden administration
While enjoying a positive relationship with former United States President Donald Trump, Bukele has had a much more strained 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 US government would like El Salvador to reverse the measures against the court and the attorney general. Bukele said that would not happen.
Bukele’s concentration of power, attacks on critics, and open disregard for controls on his power have raised concerns about El Salvador’s path. However, Bukele has a broad base of support in part due to the total failure of the country’s traditional parties that ruled in the past. 30 years to improve people’s lives and their ability to provide short-term benefits.
Bukele has been praised for aggressively sourcing COVID-19 vaccines and running an efficient vaccination program far more successful than El Salvador’s neighbors.