Protesters in El Salvador Torch Bitcoin ATM in Push Against Crypto Rollout

A Bitcoin (BTC) ATM was destroyed by vandals in El Salvador yesterday.

The freestanding outdoor structure in the capital city of San Salvador had its windows smashed before being set on fire.

Thousands of people had taken to the streets in a wide-ranging protest against the policies of President Nayib Bukele.

One protester named Adriana Montenegro expressed the overall sense of frustration that many citizens have regarding their government.

“They promised to do things differently, and they’ve been worse. We are [out protesting] in the midst of the pandemic because this dictatorship is deadlier than the virus.”

In an interview with Democracy Now, Dartmouth College assistant professor Jorge Cuéllar says that the Salvadoran government has misplaced priorities.

“There’s no reason why Bitcoin should be at the top of the government’s agenda [during a time] of the pandemic, of water stress, of food insecurity, of depressed wages.”

Noting that 25% of El Salvador’s gross domestic product (GPD) is foreign inflows of capital from citizens living abroad, Cuéllar discusses the government’s main selling point for adopting Bitcoin.

“The big sell… around Bitcoin has been that it will lessen remittance fees into the country. So one of [the president’s] arguments for Bitcoin has been to lessen those commissions that entities like Western Union and MoneyGram take on every remittance sent into the country.”

El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt BTC as legal tender on September 7th. In addition to public protests against the new law, technical difficulties have marred the Chivo cryptocurrency wallet’s rollout.

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