They call it “the white one”. And never was a nickname more apt.
In stark contrast to the rainbow of colors that are cities here in El Salvador, Metapan’s city center is dazzlingly white. Every single building is immaculately white. We’re not used to it and it makes for a stunning effect.
Unfortunately, it’s Sunday and it’s January 2. Probably a bad combination because everything is closed. Literally. And as if that wasn’t enough the very few places open where you can have breakfast don’t accept bitcoin. We remain fasting. We take a nice walk around the center and then we decide to head towards Suchitoto.
I’m a bit pensive. Being here to chronicle and comment on Bitcoin adoption in the country means sometimes getting lost in the big day-to-day challenges and not having the right connection to what’s happening outside of the bubble. But in the last few days, an article that came out in Bitcoin Magazine by Anita Posh is causing some discussion.
Anita has traveled to El Salvador before us and cares deeply about what is happening here. Over the past few months, she has done careful investigative work that sheds a sinister light on the true motivations behind President Bukele’s adoption of Bitcoin. It illustrates how much political propaganda is behind the initiative. It reveals how Algorand is, along with Athena as we have pointed out, directly responsible for the Chivo wallet disaster. She wonders why shitcoiner Micali paid El Salvador (rumors speak of 20 million dollars) to develop bad Bitcoin technology. Most importantly, she tells us about how plans for the Bitcoin Bond were confirmed minutes before the announcement and how the Bitcoin City designs, presented with pomp and circumstance at the closing event of the Adopting Bitcoin conference, were actually free templates found on the internet. A strawman. All in front of an audience of bitcoiners as emblazoned as they were adoring. More big fishes than whales in this case. Rats on the Pied Piper’s hook.
The article in question, disturbing as it is, fits perfectly with what we documented during more than a month of investigation here in El Salvador. It tells us about an unaware population, on which a potentially revolutionary technology was dropped from above without being given the necessary tools to understand and use it. Unwitting victims of the tweet fever of a charismatic leader rather than the object and beneficiary of innovation. Every day that passes we collect new testimonies and new elements that confirm this sad reality.
We left Metapan to reach Suchitoto by driving along one of the most beautiful roads in the world. The view of the northern part of El Salvador is perhaps the most mesmerizing of all. The countryside here is truly lush like few others. Suchi is a beautiful old town, with its perfectly preserved Spanish-style colonial houses and cobblestone streets. It has a long and troubled history, ranging from the economic splendor of indigo farming and dyeing to the tragedies of civil war. Here there was another guerrilla stronghold and the local community was once again hit very hard by the army, with carpet bombings and violent reprisals. Today it is a rather touristy city of art. This is the face that it has chosen to relaunch itself after the drama of the armed conflict. Yet we struggle to find a hotel that accepts Bitcoin, as well as very few of the craft and souvenir stores that crowd the center.
In the evening we stop to chat for a long time with the owners of the hotel, a lovely place nestled on the hill with a breathtaking view of the Rio Lempa reservoir, and some of their friends. They are all entrepreneurs, smart and educated. The typical local middle class. We are the first customers asking to pay in bitcoin and they are intrigued. When we finish telling them about the technology they look at us in amazement and thank us warmly. They confess to us that they had no idea of the potential, that no one talks about it in El Salvador, neither the newspapers nor the televisions. That they had never received any kind of education or information about it before they met us, so they had simply dismissed it as something irrelevant.
WhWhat is the point of doing this?
And do any of us care about this? Can we agree it’s the core of the problem?
Because after Posh’s article the circus broke out. As if touching Bukele today was sacrilegious. As if Bukele is Bitcoin. As if Bitcoin City and the Bitcoin Bond were fundamental to the adoption and success of this idea. As if we all went from being libertarians to being stateists. As if the motto “don’t trust verify” is only valid as long as no one comes to verify in our own backyard garden.
And so off we go, down to the tweeting bashing. The self-proclaimed monarch of Bitcoin Beach against the fudster journalist, the journalist against the self-proclaimed dictator of El Salvador and the self-proclaimed king of shitcoiners Micali against everyone. The most embarrassing theater of humanity possible.
But Bitcoin is for individuals. It was born to be above states and institutions. It doesn’t care about being legal tender, being bond, having a whole city, receiving awards and honors. Those who use it today to carve out privilege and leadership think they are smart. But they’ re ingesting cyanide. Their hours are numbered and we will dance at their funeral.