New York Post

El Salvador protesters not buying in

- Theo Wayt, Will Feuer and Wires

Thousands of demonstrat­ors took to the streets of El Salvador to protest the nation’s adopting Bitcoin as its legal currency alongside the US dollar.

Most of the marchers in the capital, San Salvador, on Wednesday were peaceful, but some smashed and torched at least one Bitcoin ATM, according to reports.

Some wore shirts that read “NO to Bitcoin” and sprayed anti-Bitcoin graffiti along protest routes. Others carried signs with the Bitcoin logo crossed out.

President Nayib Bukele introduced a digital Bitcoin wallet a week ago, making his nation the first nation to officially recognize the cryptocurr­ency. But the rollout has been plagued with issues, and the service has frequently been down for maintenanc­e.

Bitcoin’s price tanked as much as 16 percent on the day El Salvador adopted it — and reportedly right after its government bought 400 bitcoin, worth about $21 million at the time, making it the first country to put Bitcoin on its balance sheet and hold it in its reserves.

Bukele said the country bought another 150 bitcoin after the drop.

“What the government is doing is arrogant. It is authoritar­ianism,” protester Dora Rivera, 49, told Reuters.

Wednesday’s march, which coincided with El Salvador’s bicentenni­al, was the first major protest against Bukele since he took office in 2019.

Proponents of the Bitcoin law argue it will help the 70 percent of citizens who don’t have bank accounts access financial services.

Critics say adopting Bitcoin is a ploy by Bukele’s party to distract from the country’s economic issues.

The marchers, who organizers estimated numbered 4,500, were also protesting what they said were power grabs by Bukele.

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