El Salvador isn’t slowing down its Bitcoin ambitions. Not if President Nayib Bukele wins on Sunday, anyway.
Felix Ulloa, the country’s vice president, said in an interview this week that the largest cryptocurrency by market cap would remain legal tender in the Central American nation if Bukele remains in the role for another term.
El Salvador’s government made Bitcoin legal tender in the country—alongside the U.S. dollar—back in 2021 under President Nayib Bukele.
A tiny Latin American country with a population of 6.6 million people, El Salvador’s leader made headlines due to his unconventional way of ruling—and constant tweeting.
The social media-savvy former marketing executive has been criticized by institutions like the IMF and the U.S. government for his crypto bet—but praised by citizens for making the country safer. El Salvador once had one of the highest murder rates in the world. Now, it has less crime than many other countries in the Americas.
Human rights groups have slammed Bukele’s administration for what it claims is a harsh crackdown on citizens, though: Salvadoran authorities built a mega-prison and locked up more than 1% of the population. Many inmates have also died, major news outlets like the AP have reported.
Bukele is this week up for reelection—and polls show that he’s expected to win. Ulloa said in Wednesday’s interview that if Bukele wins, El Salvador will also go ahead with its plans for Bitcoin City—a tech-friendly city powered by a volcano and funded by Bitcoin-backed bonds.
El Salvador is trying to market itself as a tropical tax-haven and attract nomadic, crypto-loving entrepreneur types. Last year, the Salvadoran government announced a visa program offering foreigners a passport and residency if they invest $1 million in Bitcoin or Tether into the country.
Despite Bukele’s popularity among Salvadorans, Bitcoin has struggled to take off there. Businesses have to accept it—legally—but not a large portion of the population actually uses the asset to buy things.
Edited by Andrew Hayward