Give Your Bitcoin to the Poor, Salvadoran Economist Urges Nayib Bukele

An economist has suggested that El Salvador’s Bitcoin-loving president should use his “failed” cryptocurrency investment to help the country’s poor. 

Speaking to El Diario de Hoy newspaper, UCA El Salvador University professor Rafael Lemus said that President Nayib Bukele’s Bitcoin buys had produced no benefit for the country and should be put to better use. 

President Bukele—who became El Salvador’s leader in 2019—made Bitcoin legal tender in the tiny Central American country back in 2021. He has also bought a lot of the cryptocurrency, according to Twitter announcements, but his government won’t reveal information on the investment.  

“Just as he blew through more than $2 million in Bitcoin, why not undo that investment, recover what he can, and allocate it to the poorest households,” the professor said, referring to the leader’s buying spree

He added that such a move would prevent the poorest households in the country from “moving into extreme poverty” due to inflation.  

El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in the Americas. It previously suffered from endemic gang violence but the murder rate—once one of the highest in the world—has dropped dramatically under Bukele’s watch. 

According to data from the Nayib Tracker website, the president has spent over $113 million on Bitcoin but is currently down 34% on the investment. 

Despite the president being very popular in El Salvador—and Latin America as a whole, according to polls—Bukele’s Bitcoin bet has been criticized.

The likes of the World Bank and the IMF have dismissed the idea and so far, not many Salvadorans use the cryptocurrency for everyday purchases. 


El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law requires businesses in the country to accept the cryptocurrency if they have the technological means to do so. Citizens were also encouraged to use it. 

But when Decrypt visited the country in 2021, not many merchants, other than major companies like McDonald’s or Starbucks, were interested in the asset. 

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