World’s ‘coolest dictator’ rebukes US

President of El Salvador tells US to ‘stay out’ of his country’s affairs after senators voice worries over bitcoin

El Salvador is a sovereign country and not a colony of Washington, which has no right to meddle in its decision to adopt bitcoin, President Nayib Bukele said on Wednesday in response to a bill proposed by several US senators alarmed at the prospect.

“OK boomers,” Bukele tweeted on Wednesday evening. “We are not your colony, your back yard or your front yard. Stay out of our internal affairs. Don’t try to control something you can’t control.” He added that the US has “zero jurisdiction” in El Salvador, a sovereign and independent nation.

Bukele, elected in 2019, once described himself as “the world’s coolest dictator” in his Twitter biography but now styles himself “CEO of El Salvador.” He was responding to a statement by three US senators – two Republicans and a Democrat – concerned about the country’s adoption of bitcoin and “potential risks to the US financial system” that might represent.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) joined Republicans Jim Risch of Idaho and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana in proposing Accountability for Cryptocurrency in El Salvador (ACES) Act, demanding of the US State Department to produce a report and a plan to address Bukele’s embrace of bitcoin. 

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Small store that accepts Bitcoin, in Tamanique, El Salvador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021
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El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin “raises significant concerns about the economic stability and financial integrity” of the Central American country and “has the potential to weaken US sanctions policy, empowering malign actors like China and organized criminal organizations,” argued Senator Risch.

“If the United States wishes to combat money laundering and preserve the role of the dollar as a reserve currency of the world, we must tackle this issue head on,” said Cassidy, adding that Bukele’s policy “opens the door for money laundering cartels and undermines US interests.”

Bukele followed up by posting a 10-second video of US President Joe Biden talking about sovereignty and freedom on Tuesday, in a speech about Ukraine. “This includes El Salvador? Right?” he said.

The Central American country abolished its own currency in 2001, switching to the US dollar instead. It became the first nation in the world to embrace bitcoin as legal tender, in June 2021, defying disapproval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Bukele has since made progress on plans to use El Salvador’s volcanoes as the power source to mine the digital cryptocurrency.

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