Thursday 16 September 2021 9:25 am

Bitcoin protests break out in El Salvador

Protests in El Salvador turned violent as thousands of demonstrators expressed their anger about Bitcoin becoming legal tender.

Yesterday, anti-government marchers took to the streets bearing signs which read “no to dictatorship” and “we were defrauded by Bitcoin”. Bitcoin ATMs, installed ahead of the crypto currency becoming legal tender earlier this month, were burned by demonstrators.

A Bitcoin ATM is burned in El Salvador.

The decision to legalise the use of crypto payments across the country was spearheaded by El Salvador’s charismatic young leader, President Nayib Bukele, who proposed the scheme to help to make remittance payments cheaper and faster. Businesses are legally required to accept Bitcoin payments alongside the dollar.

However, recent polling suggests the policy is unpopular with 67.9% of 1,281 people surveyed saying they disagree or strongly disagree with the change. To make matters worse, the day of the rollout was plagued by technical hitches and a slump in the price of Bitcoin which led to around 1,000 protestors marching on the capital.

El Salvador’s official Bitcoin wallet, which comes pre-loaded with $30 of free crypto, has just half a million users.

Yesterday’s protestors also challenged Bukele’s authoritative leadership style after the country’s judiciary approved him to run for a second term in office despite constitutional limits.

“It’s important to say this morning: Enough already! What the government is doing is arrogant, it is authoritarianism,” protester Dora Rivera told Reuters.

Despite the setbacks, the price of Bitcoin is up 2.5 per cent in the past 24 hours and stands at $48,217.89.

Read more: Welcome to the one country where Bitcoin can be used as cash