Arrest of anti-Bitcoin activist in El Salvador
How far will opposition to the Bitcoin (BTC) law, which is supposed to come into force on September 7, go? What is certain is that the last few days do not give much cause for optimism in El Salvador. Earlier last week, President Nayib Bukele announced the absence of an obligation to use cryptocurrency in the country, in contradiction with a provision in the law of June 9.
The past weekend was marked by various anti-Bitcoin protests in the country, with some retirees being particularly afraid for the payment of their pensions. Yesterday, a new step was taken. The local press has indeed announced the arrest of Mario Gomez, an activist opposed to President Bukele.
The arrest was filmed and posted on social media. Elena de Gomez, Mario Gomez’s mother, said she did not know the reasons why her son was taken to the police station. Salvadoran police say the activist is suspected of financial fraud.
An opponent of the Bitcoin law and President Bukele in El Salvador
Gomez’s arrest may come as a surprise as he is a longtime critic of President Bukele on various topics and not just the Bitcoin law. Above all, it seems that he was arrested on mere suspicion and not thanks to an arrest warrant. What to give grain to grind to the opponents of President Bukele.
Gomez is the founder of Salvadoran incubator Hackerspace, which is no longer accessible since yesterday, and one of the most prominent voices who opposed the decision to make BTC legal tender in El Salvador.
Over the past few weeks, the activist has participated in several videoconferences to explain the reasons for his opposition to the Bitcoin law. Some details relating to the national electronic wallet, the Chivo have been revealed. He claims that the costs of operating the wallet would be funded by the taxpayer due to the lack of commissions on the BTC / USD exchange.
Hours before his arrest, Gomez left a message on Twitter for the Salvadoran intelligence services, saying that the more the authorities lied, the more their lies would be discovered by the population.
Mensaje para mis seguidores del OIE: Yo no soy. Es su misma gente … Mientras más traten de ocultar lo que hacen … Más gente va a mess a contar lo que esconden.
Yo solo dejo que pase
End of the comunicado.
– mxgxw.α (@mxgxw_alpha) August 31, 2021
According to the Salvadoran police, Mario Gomez is accused of having done phishing, or phishing in good French, in order to steal the banking data of Salvadoran citizens. The police are reportedly seeking permission to seize and search his phone and computer in order to prove the facts of which he is accused.
Is Gomez’s arrest a serious thorn in the side of the Bitcoin law?
Following his interrogation, Gomez was taken home by Salvadoran police, and his lawyer was unsure last night whether investigators were able to seize his phone and computer. Even though the arrest only lasted one afternoon, it is not really a good publicity for the Bitcoin law and President Bukele.
While opponents of Nayib Bukele see him as an autocrat, his popularity is virtually unmatched in the world, with over 85% of Salvadorans endorsing his policies. A score to make the leaders of the Western powers green with envy.
Can the Bitcoin law be called into question? At first glance, the machine is on its way and stopping it now seems complicated. The first weeks will nevertheless be crucial in order to know whether this opposition is only a facade expression or a real revolt to come in the country, and this despite polls favorable to the president.
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About the author: Benjamin Allouch
Formerly a lawyer specializing in personal data and digital law, I quickly became interested in Bitcoin, blockchain technology and their legal implications. Today, I am an independent consultant and writer in the field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
All articles by Benjamin Allouch.