Anti-Bitcoin Demonstrations Rage in El Salvador During Nation’s Independence Day

Protesters set fire to a bitcoin ATM and marched through the streets of the capital San Salvador.

AccessTimeIconSep 16, 2021 at 8:43 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:34 p.m. UTC
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Demonstrators marching against El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender and against President Nayib Bukele during the nation’s day of independence set fire to an ATM designed to exchange dollars for the world’s oldest crypto.

The Chivo ATM, named after the government-sanctioned crypto wallet Chivo, can be seen below ablaze in the nation’s capital city, San Salvador.

Protesters are also expressing anger over perceived authoritarianism by the president.

Video footage provided by Ruptly shows protesters streaming into San Salvador brandishing signs such as “No to Bitcoin,” “resistance and popular rebellion against the regiment of Bukele,” and “no to corrupt money laundering.”

On Sept. 3, Bukele was cleared by the judiciary to run for another term despite constitutional limits. The judges were appointed in May by Bukele’s ruling party after the previous judiciary was sacked. The September ruling prompted criticism over abuse of power, including from the local U.S. Embassy.

El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law – which was passed by a supermajority in the Salvadoran legislature in June and which went into effect on Sept. 7 – has faced stiff opposition ever since it was proposed.

The law, a first of its kind around the world, enables citizens of the Latin American country to use bitcoin as a means to pay for goods and services alongside the U.S. dollar.

In June, Jaime Guevara, a regional deputy belonging to an opposition party in El Salvador, and a group of citizens sued the government over the law, labeling it unconstitutional.


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Sebastian Sinclair

Sebastian Sinclair is a CoinDesk news reporter based in Australia.

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza Gkritsi is a CoinDesk contributor focused on the intersection of crypto and AI.

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