Bitcoin in El Salvador: Why Is It Worth the Effort?

A long-time Bitcoin activist reflects on the Central American nation’s adoption of bitcoin as a legal tender in the face of much opposition.

CoinDesk Insights
Sep 16, 2021 at 9:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 19, 2021 at 9:49 p.m. UTC

More than nine years ago, we founded Bitcoin Argentina’s nongovernmental organization to defend bitcoin and its potential despite all public opinion to the contrary. At the time, bitcoin was criticized by families and friends, very little was known about the subject, and everything in the media was negative. No one could understand the social relevance of defending a currency through an organization like ours.

Since then, our belief about the role that the currency as a store of value and its underlying technology would play in the near future became a reality, and all those who invested time to understand and listen saw the reward of their investment. In turn, they changed their minds, their lives and those of their children.

Rodolfo Andragnes is the founder of LABITCONF, which takes place Nov 15 to 20, Bitcoin Argentina’s NGO, LaBitcoineta, Bitcoin Center BsAs and SeedPirates.

We have carried out dozens of nonprofit projects, including conferences, traveling vans, co-working spaces, international NGOs, fundraisings, social impact projects, grants and so on, with the sole purpose of helping more and more people discover something that goes beyond money and technology. Poor or rich it does not matter, for everyone bitcoin implies a change of mentality.

On June 6, the president of El Salvador, a whole country, decided to make bitcoin an official currency, and we felt that as a new call and a new challenge. We felt we should drop everything to help Salvadorans discover the opportunity bitcoin represents for them and put together a more challenging event there than we’ve ever done before.

But why do it if part of the Salvadoran population criticizes bitcoin? Why defend a law that was imposed? Why defend a president whom some criticize? Why do it if some potential attendees still believe it is a dangerous country? Why take on such a great challenge with only two months left? Why do it without earning anything and risking our money and time? Why is it worth the effort?

The answer is simple: because helping people is worth it, because it is not about supporting or defending one or the other, but about betting on the future of all. Because, again, it does not matter if everyone criticizes us, or if they still do not see it, if citizens only see the price and the speculation or if they only read the criticism. It is worth giving them the opportunity to understand and discover that bitcoin is not just a currency but a ticket to more justice, transparency and freedom.

Everything unknown generates fear, but fear protects us as much as it drives us away. That is why, from Nov. 15 to 20, we will assume the risk of doing this event that helps students to program on blockchain, that links up doubters about bitcoin with specialists, hooks up entrepreneurs with new technological solutions and that encourages governments to debate and explore bitcoin’s future.

For that reason, we will do LABITCONF, together with four leading conferences in the continent. It will be a full week with hackathons, fairs, art, business rounds and free conferences, inviting whoever wants to debate. We see it as an effort to promote investment in this beautiful country and make its people and all of Latin America believe that they can also become leaders.

So forget your concerns, and join us in this unique crusade. Help us make history and change people’s future. It is worth it.


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