Support for making Bitcoin legal tender grows in Latin America
El Salvador will soon consider Bitcoin legal tender and some politicians in Central and South America want their country to be next.
Members of the business community and politicians in several countries have voiced support for Bitcoin in general, or support for legislation that involves Bitcoin. Some have even changed their profile pictures on social media to sport the glowing eyes that signify support for the cryptocurrency.
Yet, none have taken as firm a step as the president of El Salvador.
The Central American country’s president, Nayib Bukele, announced at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami that he would be introducing legislation to make the cryptocurrency legal tender.
The legislation passed swiftly, and Bitcoin will be considered a legal form of currency in the country, alongside its primary currency, the U.S. dollar, after Sept. 7.
The country has even gone as far as to promise $30 in Bitcoin to each citizen that downloads and registers on the country’s new cryptowallet, Chivo.
Following the announcement, reactions from businesspeople and politicians across Latin America have been mixed.
On June 17, Paraguayan lawmaker Carlos Rejala tweeted in support of Bitcoin, saying “This is Paraguay. July we legislate! #Bitcoin,” sparking rumors that Paraguay could also adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.
Rejala later clarified his comments to Reuters, saying he will propose legislation to regulate Bitcoin, not consider it legal tender, and will introduce three drafts of the law he will present on July 14.
“It is a bill of digital assets and it differs from that of El Salvador because they are taking it as legal currency and in Paraguay it will be impossible to do something like that,” Rejala told Reuters.
To pass and become law, any Bitcoin-related bill would have to get a majority vote in the South American country’s lower chamber of congress, pass the upper chamber, and be approved by the Paraguayan president.
The United States’ neighbor to the south has also had legislators and businesspeople throw their support behind Bitcoin.
Eduardo Murat Hinojosa, a Mexican lawmaker in the federal government, said in a tweet that he would be “promoting and proposing a legal framework for crypto coins in Mexico’s lower house.”
On the business side, Mexico’s third richest person, Ricardo Salinas Pliego hinted Sunday that his bank Banco Azteca, may soon accept Bitcoin, according to Reuters. It would be the first bank to accept Bitcoin in the country.
Salinas Pliego tweeted several glowing endorsements of Bitcoin Sunday. Bitcoin rose 8% on Monday from its price on Friday.
“#Bitcoin is a good way to diversify your investment portfolio and I think that any investor should start studying cryptocurrencies and their future,” Salinas Pliego tweeted. “At @BancoAzteca we are working to bring them to our clients and continue promoting freedom.”
Panamanian congressman Gabriel Silva also threw his support behind Bitcoin in a tweet on June 7. The 32-year-old congressman said he was working on a proposal to present to Congress and put out an open invitation for collaborators.
“This is important. And Panama cannot be left behind. If we want to be a true technology and entrepreneurship hub we need to support cryptocurrencies,” Silva said in the tweet.
Despite the social media activity from government officials supporting Bitcoin legislation, few firm steps have been made in Latin American countries to follow in the footsteps of El Salvador. Some say this isn’t such a bad thing, given the nature of Bitcoin as a currency that is not tied to any one economy or coin.
Still, it is yet to be seen whether more countries and businesses in Latin America will become more receptive to the digital currency as time goes on.
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