EL SALVADOR WILL BE TRANSFORMED BY BITCOIN IN THE FUTURE.

After meeting Madam Ambassador Mayorga of El Salvador in June in Washington, D.C., I was invited to return to El Salvador in August. My wife Lola and I traveled down for five days to learn more about the area and fresh business chances. The observations that follow are based on that journey.


BY CLOSE

El Salvador is a lot closer to the United States than most people realize. We were able to take a direct flight from Miami to San Salvador for around three hours because we live in South Florida. We received a lot of help from the government. Our baggage were gathered for us and we were escorted directly from the plane to a designated receiving area where our immigration paperwork was done. This level of service was outstanding, and it foreshadowed the treatment we experienced throughout our vacation. El Salvadorians are justifiably proud of their friendliness.

SAFE AND MODERN

Over the course of my 35-year professional career, I've spent a significant amount of time traveling worldwide, much of it in poor countries. I've witnessed some appalling living conditions and heartbreaking poverty. El Salvador's media coverage has centered on issues such as El Salvadoran refugees seeking a better future at the United States' southern border, MS-13 gangs frightening the populace, and the scars of the country's civil war in the 1980s and 1990s. I can't say that these things aren't partially true, but we didn't see any evidence of them in the greater San Salvador metro region. Lola and I went on our own journeys into surrounding provincial districts and found no indication of these items there as well.

El Salvador is unquestionably impoverished. Many people selling fruits, nuts, and sweets on the side of the road on important routes into and out of San Salvador are battling to make ends meet. In some areas, a percentage of the population lives in shanty-style homes. However, the country's infrastructure is far more developed than I had anticipated, and there is a lot of building going on. Cellular service is readily available, however it is frequently 3G. The internet is widely available, as well as rapid and efficient. San Salvador is immaculately clean, and trash management is in good working order. The traffic is well-flowing, and the vehicles on the road are in good working order and are safe.

San Salvador featured a well-developed network of restaurants, bars, and shops, which was a nice surprise. This occurred not only in one upper-class neighborhood of San Salvador, but throughout the entire metro area. The companies were well-run and diverse. Prices were reasonable (comparable to those in the United States), though a touch higher than I had anticipated.

I spent a lot of time in Taiwan in the 1990s. Over the course of that decade, the country progressed from being a developing to a developed nation. El Salvador has the same feeling that Taiwan did throughout that period of transition. El Salvador is a developing country. People are aware of it as well. While they may not have everything that others in first-world countries have, they do not moan about it; instead, they focus on the future.

MONEY

In an attempt to encourage the usage of coinage in commercial operations, the United States created the Sacagawea dollar coin in 2000. It was a flop at the end of the decade, and it faded into obscurity. El Salvador is the solution to your question about where all of those dollar coins went.

I had to double-check my change the first time I bought something in US dollars and received change. I bring this up because, as things are, El Salvador's economy is highly based on the US dollar. Prices were only displayed in USD in all of the places we visited. Only a limited percentage of businesses even announced that they accepted Bitcoin. I must admit that I was disappointed, but there is some good news.

Bitcoin Beach is a really genuine place, despite its small size. Bitcoin is well-known and accepted by retailers and street vendors. Soda, ice cream, artisan soaps, t-shirts, coffee, and jewelry may all be purchased with Bitcoin or dollars. The suppliers don't care which currency you use, and if you choose Bitcoin, they know how to complete the transaction. If anything can happen here, it can happen in San Salvador, and it can happen elsewhere in the globe if it can happen in San Salvador.

Outside of Bitcoin Beach, El Salvadoreans are generally enthusiastic about Bitcoin, despite their lack of expertise, which concerns concern. This is understandable, given that Bitcoin was a complete unknown to the majority of people only ten weeks ago. However, they have a great desire to learn more about it, and they recognize that this is a critical juncture in El Salvador's future. People bombarded us with questions as we traveled across the country, learning that we ran Bitcoin mining businesses; our drivers, Saul and Romeo, Jorge, the boutique hotel owner, Mario from the reptile farm, Benjamin, the attorney, Napo from the t-shirt factory, and many others were sponges soaking up any knowledge we could impart.

But the most interesting and thrilling portion of the trip came on our last day in El Salvador, when we were invited to a small gathering at the home of a new friend. Several children in their early adolescent years were present. One of the group members, Sarah, approached me as they were about to leave for a boat ride and questioned if Bitcoin was a good thing for El Salvador. I told her, “Yes, that was really excellent for El Salvador, and she should be excited and proud of the daring and courageous step her country was making,” instead of giving her a long-winded answer incorporating Austrian economics, geopolitics, and the value of hard money. I assumed that would be the end of it and that she would want to get back on the boat. Sarah, it turns out, was far more than I had anticipated. In a matter of minutes, not only Sarah, but a whole slew of El Salvadorian teenagers had me drilled on Bitcoin. We put the boat ride on hold and spent the next hour delving into topics like inflation, monetary policy, global reserve currencies, the separation of government and money, and Bitcoin dynamics.

These youngsters are bright, determined, and determined to make a difference in the world. They aren't influenced by establishment propaganda, and they won't accept anything without thoroughly questioning it.

President Nayim Bukele, who is forward-thinking and action-oriented, leads the country. Several members of his administration, including members of the Bitcoin implementation team, met with me. I can tell you that President Bukele has surrounded himself with a team of young, dynamic, and imaginative people rather than a bunch of bureaucrats. They behave more like a corporation preparing for an initial public offering than a government. When comparing the caliber of El Salvador's team and their ability to execute with the farce in the US Senate over the bitcoin section of the infrastructure bill, I can't help but shake my head. While El Salvador is undergoing a monetary revolution, the United States can't even agree on a few sentences of cryptocurrency law because one 87-year-old senator in his sixth term has the power to overturn the votes of 99 senators.

Lola and I are struck by the sharp knowledge that we were standing in the epicenter of a revolution as we reflect on our journey. President Bukele's leadership and Jack Mallers' technology have undoubtedly aided El Salvador's Bitcoin movement, but the actual energy to carry it through will come from the masses and the youth who view Bitcoin as a way to a brighter tomorrow. They're in, and they're going to make it happen.

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