Last Updated on February 17, 2022
Nayib Bukele, the President of El Salvador, has criticized Western leaders over vaccine mandates and crackdowns on protesters in a number of tweets over recent days. Bukele, 40, also hit back at calls from a group of U.S. Senators to curb his nation’s embrace of Bitcoin. “The real war is not in Ukraine, it’s in Canada, Australia, France, Brussels, England, Germany, Italy,” Bukele said in reference to totalitarian mandates. “They just want you to look the other way.”
In Paris, riot police set up roadblocks and deployed tear gas against protesters who hoped to mimic Canada’s Freedom Convoy protests. Canadian truckers and others have been peacefully demonstrating outside Canadian federal buildings for over three weeks in an effort to end to vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions.
Bukele criticized French police for their actions and pondered what the world would say if his government engaged in a similar crackdown. “This is Paris, today. Imagine this was in El Salvador.,” Bukele wrote in a tweet over images of armored vehicles on the streets of Paris. “What would France, the European Union, and the “international community” say? Honestly.”
This is Paris, today.
Imagine this was in El Salvador…
What would France, the European Union, and the “international community” say?
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) February 13, 2022
El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as a legal tender after the nation’s Legislative Assembly adopted the move last June. Bukele led the charge to accept Bitcoin alongside the U.S. dollar, much to the dismay of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF wants El Salvador to drop the cryptocurrency as legal tender and strictly regulate the electronic wallet the government has pushed adoption of across the country. In a statement last month, the organization “urged the authorities to narrow the scope of the Bitcoin law by removing Bitcoin’s legal tender status.”
“The adoption of a cryptocurrency as legal tender, however, entails large risks for financial and market integrity, financial stability and consumer protection,” the IMF statement said.
Bukele’s move has also drawn criticism from the U.S. government. Just this week, a group of U.S. Senators requested an investigation into risks from his nation’s adoption of Bitcoin. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), along with Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced legislation that calls for a State Department report on El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender and a plan to mitigate potential risks to the U.S. financial system.
Bukele hit back at the “boomer” senators in a tweet on Wednesday. “You have 0 jurisdiction on a sovereign nation and independent nation,” wrote Bukele. “Stay out of our internal affairs. Don’t try to control something you can’t control.”
El Salvador’s president also highlighted a statement from Biden in which the U.S. president said all nations have a right to sovereignty. “This includes El Salvador? Right?” wrote Bukele.
Earlier in the week, Bukele criticized Canada’s the widening of “terrorist financing” rules, which were expanded in order to crack down on funding for the Freedom Convoy. Under Canada’s Emergencies Act — which was enacted by Prime Minister Trudeau on Monday — banks and other financial service providers can freeze assets with no oversight.
The authoritarian edict also seeks to crack down on cryptocurrency donations. On Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ordered financial providers to cease transacting with bitcoin addresses allegedly associated with the Freedom Convoy’s fundraising efforts. “Pursuant to the Emergency Economic Measures Order, under subsection 19(1) of the Emergencies Act, there is a duty to cease facilitating any transactions pertaining to the following cryptocurrency address(es),” the order stated. The document then lists 29 bitcoin addresses that have transacted up to $1 million worth of BTC. In addition to that, the RCMP information about any movements to or from these addresses.
“Any information about a transaction or proposed transaction in respect of these address(es), is to be disclosed immediately to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at CryptocurrencyNHQ-CryptomonnaieDG@rcmp-grc.gc.ca,” the federal police service asked in the document.
“Are these the people who like to give lessons to other countries about democracy and freedom?” Bukele asked rhetorically. This is one of the top ranking countries in the ‘democracy index’? Your credibility on these topics is now worth 0,” he said in reference to the Canadian government’s actions.