Thousands of people in El Salvador are marching on President Nayib Bukele
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Thousands of people gathered in El Salvador’s capital on Wednesday for the first mass march against President Nayib Bukele, who protesters say has concentrated too much power, weakened judicial independence and may seek re-election.
Some marchers wore T-shirts that said “NO To Bitcoin”. Some protesters vandalized the special ATMs that were set up to handle Bitcoin transactions, but which have been inoperative for much of the week. The cabinet holding an ATM was destroyed.
The populist president who was elected in 2019 has maintained high popularity with his promises to eradicate corruption that was widespread among the country’s traditional parties. But some Salvadorans say he is becoming “a dictator” and Wednesday’s march was the first major protest against his government.
“It’s time to defend democracy,” said one of the protesters, former Supreme Court Justice Justice Sidney Blanco. “This march is symbolic; it represents fatigue with so many violations of the Constitution.”
Bukele’s New Ideas party won a congressional majority this year and immediately after taking its seat in the National Assembly in May, it replaced the five members of the Constitutional House and the independent prosecutor who had abstained from several of Bukele’s previous actions.
Shortly afterwards, the Constituent Assembly rejected what has long been interpreted as a constitutional ban on successive presidential elections and set the stage for Bukele to possibly seek a second term in 2024. Bukele has so far not announced plans to seek re-election, but critics assume he will.
Milton Brizuela, leader of the country’s medical association, said that “legal independence is important to us.”
But Blinken warned that “anti-democratic development poses a growing threat to the future of Central America” and adds “the United States stands with all who speak the truth to power.”
The digital wallet seems to have been overloaded by the large number of Salvadorans who want to take advantage of the $ 30 bonus that the government puts into each account to stimulate adoption.
Bukele, the main promoter of using the cryptocurrency, acknowledged that the government’s three-month launch may have been too ambitious. He said that technical errors had prevented the app from working on certain types of phones.
There has been skepticism about the government’s enthusiastic adoption of bitcoin as a legal tender along with the US dollar since Bukele announced it in a video recorded in English and played at a bitcoin conference in Miami in June. Bitcoin is subject to wild fluctuations in value in a few minutes.
All companies with the technical ability to do so must accept payment in bitcoin, but no private citizen needs to use it.
Recent opinion polls in El Salvador have shown that a majority of Salvadorans oppose making it an official currency. Bukele still says that there are now half a million users of the digital payment system in the Central American nation.