Thousands of people marched in the Salvadoran capital on Wednesday against the government of President Nayib Bukele, which protesters say has concentrated too much power, weakened the independence of the courts and could be re-elected.
Some protesters are also protesting Bukele’s controversial decision to make Bitcoin cryptocurrency legal tender in El Salvador, the first country to do so. Officials deployed a digital wallet known as “Chivo” a week ago, but the system has been frequently shut down for maintenance.
The populist president elected in 2019 has maintained great popularity with his vows to eradicate the corruption that plagued 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.
“Now is the time to stand up for democracy,” said one of the protesters, former Supreme Court Justice Sidney Blanco. “This march is symbolic, it represents weariness with so many violations of the Constitution.”
Bukele’s New Ideas Party won a majority in Congress this year and immediately after taking its seats in the National Assembly in May, it replaced the five members of the Constitutional Chamber and the independent Attorney General who had opposed to many of Bukele’s earlier actions.
Soon after, the Constitutional Chamber rejected what had long been interpreted as a constitutional ban on consecutive presidential re-election, paving the way for Bukele to potentially run for a second term in 2024. Bukele has yet to announce his intention to run for office. get re-elected, but critics assume he will.
Milton Brizuela, head of the country’s medical association, said “judicial independence is important to us”.
The digital wallet appears to have been overburdened by the large number of Salvadorans seeking to take advantage of the $ 30 bonus that the government has put in each account to encourage adoption.
Bukele, the main proponent of the use of cryptocurrency, acknowledged that the government’s three-month rollout may be too ambitious. He said technical issues prevented the app from working on certain types of phones.
The government’s enthusiastic adoption of bitcoin as legal tender with the U.S. dollar has sparked some skepticism since Bukele announced it in a video recorded in English and shown at a bitcoin conference in Miami in June. Bitcoin is subject to large fluctuations in value within minutes.
Any company with the technological capability to do so is required to accept payment in bitcoin, but no citizen is required to use it.
Recent opinion polls in El Salvador have indicated that a majority of Salvadorans oppose making it an official currency. Also according to Bukele, there are now half a million users of the digital payment system in the Central American nation.
The Independent Gt