Thousands of Salvadorians protested against the introduction of the bitcoin government as a legal tool in the impoverished country, as well as against judicial reforms that critics say threaten democracy.
Last week, El Salvador became the first country to use cryptocurrency as a legal tool, alongside the US dollar. President Nayib Bukele’s move was greeted with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
On the day Central America marked the bicentennial of its independence from Spanish rule, protesters burned an automatic bitcoin calculator in San Salvador, one of about 200 ATMs installed across the country as part of the reform.
Protesters in a central square in the capital held placards denouncing a “dictatorship” and signing “Respect the Constitution” and “No bitcoin.”
The protests were joined by judges, in suits and ties, who came out to demonstrate against a law recently passed by the Bukele-controlled legislature. The law calls for the dismissal of all judges over the age of 60 or those with more than 30 years of service, an action that will affect about one-third of all serving judges.
“We took to the streets because we were heading towards the dictatorship aut authoritarianism,” said Esli Carrillo, a 48-year-old judge.
The law, said another protester, Judge Luciano Lovato, 55, threatens judicial independence and “the rule of law for which we have worked so hard.”
The protesters also oppose a recent Supreme Court ruling, populated by judges appointed by Bukele, that gives the president the right to seek a second consecutive term, despite a constitutional limit of a single term.
“The republic is in danger, that is why we are demanding respect for the independence of the powers,” said Zaira Navas, an activist with the Cristosal rights group.
Villagers, workers and union activists also protested.
“We are marching because we do not want that bitcoin law because it does not favor us,” said Natalia Belloso, 41, who wore a white T-shirt with the “No bitcoin” emblem. “It (the currency) is very volatile.”
Experts and regulators have highlighted concerns about the infamous cryptocurrency instability, its potential impact on price inflation in a country of high poverty and unemployment, and the lack of protection for users.
Elected in 2019, Bukele enjoys widespread support in El Salvador for his promises to fight organized crime and improve security in the country devastated by violence, and his allies now hold a large majority in parliament.
But Bukele has long been accused of authoritarian tendencies.
To be part of the group »AOL“just click: Join Group and your request will be approved immediately.