Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has again criticized the Bitcoin community's enthusiasm for El Salvador and its president Nayib Bukele, saying that many Bitcoin advocates have ignored the fact that Bukele’s government is "not very democratic."
“This is one of my criticisms of the Bitcoin community: they just automatically love everyone rich and powerful who supports Bitcoin,” Buterin said in a video interview with The Straits Times.
According to the Ethereum co-founder, “a lot of Bitcoin people ignored the fact that Bukele’s government is not a very democratic government that actually has a lot of problems, and they are not that good at respecting other people’s freedoms.”
El Salvador was the world’s first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, making it mandatory for merchants throughout the country to accept the largest cryptocurrency as a payment option. The move sparked widespread discontent among citizens and businesses.
First announced at the Bitcoin Miami conference in June 2021, El Salvador’s Bitcoin law has won Bukele plaudits from some of the loudest voices in Bitcoin. However, Bukele's regime has come under fire for its well-documented authoritarian tendencies and the forced nature of its Bitcoin rollout.
El Salvador's Bitcoin adoption "not very sustainable"
El Salvador’s Bitcoin law was introduced in the midst of the crypto bull run, with the price of Bitcoin peaking at a high of over $69,000 last November.
Since then, the crypto market has plunged, with Bitcoin down over 76% from its all-time high.
Buterin opined that El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption model was based on an expectation that prices will continue to go up, but as Bitcoin ended up going down, “now it looks just terrible and not many people are using it.”
“Basically, just the way Bitcoin adoption was done, very top-down enforced, it just ended up not very sustainable,” said Buterin. Despite the tumbling price of Bitcoin, Bukele's regime remains committed to Bitcoin adoption; just last week the president announced that El Salvador would begin purchasing one Bitcoin every day.
This is not the first time the Canadian programmer has criticized Bukele's embrace of Bitcoin as legal tender. Commenting on the matter last year, Buterin said that “making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space."
He also questioned the “tactic of pushing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education,” calling it a “reckless” move that exposed innocent people to the risk of hacks or scams.
“Shame on everyone (ok, fine, I'll call out the main people responsible: shame on Bitcoin maximalists) who are uncritically praising him,” Buterin said at the time.