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El Salvador’s Bukele Says FTX Is ‘the Opposite of Bitcoin’

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Igor Faun/Adobe

The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has called FTX the “opposite” of bitcoin (BTC). And the leader has equated the exchange’s chief Sam Bankman-Fried with notorious financial criminals like Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff.

Bukele has been relatively quiet on all things Bitcoin-related in recent months – with the value of his nation’s BTC investment plummeting along with market prices.

But like many so-called Bitcoin maximalists, Bukele is of the opinion that crypto and Bitcoin are not one and the same thing.

In a tweet, he wrote that it was “still early” in the Bitcoin story and opined that “FTX is the opposite of Bitcoin.”

But Bukele has no shortage of critics on the matter of Bitcoin. Per Infobae, the economist Ricardo Castaneda of the Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (ICEFI) claimed that there was now “a strong sense of mistrust among the [Salvadoran] population” on BTC-related matters.

The newspaper pointed to a Central American University (UCA) survey published in October. The survey found that 77% of Salvadorans think that BTC adoption “has not benefited them at all.”

Bukele’s Bitcoin Record Called into Question

Castaneda, an outspoken critic of Bukele and BTC, called the Bitcoin Law of 2021 “an economic disaster for El Salvador.” He noted that government authorities have “done everything possible” to encourage the public to use BTC – with limited or no success.

He added that since Bukele began buying BTC for the country on September 6, 2021, using public, these coins had “lost 67% of their value.”

The economist remarked that the total spent on BTC in the past 12 months was almost equivalent to the annual budget of the Salvadoran Ministry of Agriculture.

This is particularly relevant “in a country where half the population suffers from food insecurity,” Castaneda remarked.

While reports of a low uptake to BTC adoption in El Salvador may well be true, Bukele has repeatedly urged his Twitter followers to exercise patience in Bitcoin-related matters.

The President is a controversial figure in the international community due mainly to his fast-deteriorating relationship with Washington, as well as organizations like the World Bank and the IMF.

But he claims he still has high levels of support from the general public, who he says are behind his economic plans for El Salvador. October CID Gallup data shows that Bukele has an approval rating of 86%.