Thousands protest against Bukele government in El Salvador

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Thousands marched in El Salvador’s capital on Wednesday against President Nayib Bukele’s government, which protesters say has concentrated too much power, undermined the independence of the courts and demanded re-election. can.

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Some marchers are also protesting Bukele’s controversial decision to make the cryptocurrency bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador, the first country to do so. Officials launched a digital wallet known as “Chivo” a week ago, but the system has often been down for maintenance.

The populist president elected in 2019 has maintained high popularity with his pledge to end corruption in the country’s traditional parties. But some Salvadorans say he is becoming a “dictator” and Wednesday’s march was the first major protest against his government.


“The time has come to defend democracy,” said one of the protesters, former Supreme Court Justice Sidney Blanco. “This march is symbolic, it represents exhaustion with many violations of the Constitution.”

Bukele’s New Ideas party won a congressional majority this year, and soon after taking his seat in the National Assembly in May, it replaced five members of the Constitutional Chamber and an independent attorney general, who blocked many of Bukele’s earlier actions. was given.

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Soon after, the Constitutional Chamber threw aside what had long been interpreted as a constitutional ban on consecutive presidential elections, setting the stage for Bukele to potentially seek a second term in 2024. Bukele has yet to announce plans for reelection, but critics believe he will.

“Judicial independence is important to us,” said Milton Brizuela, leader of the country’s medical association.

The digital wallet appears to have been heavily overloaded by Salvadorans, taking advantage of the $30 bonus placed in each account by the government to encourage adoption.

Bukele, the main promoter of using the cryptocurrency, acknowledged that the government’s three-month rollout could be too ambitious. He said technical glitches had prevented the app from working on certain types of phones.

Ever since Bukele announced it in a video recorded in English and played at a bitcoin conference in Miami in June, there have been doubts about the government’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. . Bitcoin is subject to wild swings in value within minutes.

Any business with the technical capability to do so would need to accept payment in bitcoin, but it does not require a private citizen to use it.

Recent opinion polls in El Salvador state that the majority of Salvadorans oppose making it an official currency. Yet Bukele says the Central American nation now has half a million users of the digital payment system.


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