Latin American Bitcoin Backers Scramble to Follow El Salvador’s Lead

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Lots of laser eyes….but little actual legislation, at least for now. 

El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender this week has captured the imagination of lawmakers across Latin America. That’s no surprise considering the region, long plagued by underdevelopment and volatile politics, has struggled to enfranchise its citizens in the global financial system, with too many households remaining unbanked. Bitcoin and DeFi, with their digital ubiquity and lack of centralization, are looking increasingly attractive in a part of the world desperate to improve its fortunes.  

El Salvador’s legislation on Bitcoin went from announcement to enactment in five days thanks to President Nayib Bukele. Now other leaders in a host of other Latin American countries are eyeing their own Bitcoin adoption moves. Here’s a primer on how far along each of these countries are in their crypto journeys: 

Paraguay

Carlitos Rejala, a member of Congress, has been an outspoken advocate for Bitcoin adoption. On June 6, following Bukele’s announcement, Rejala tweeted a picture of himself with laser eyes. “This week we start with an important project to innovate Paraguay in front of the world!” he wrote, hashtagging “#btc.”  

On June 9, after legislation passed in El Salvador, Rejala told Coindesk that he plans to present a bill in July that will attract crypto businesses, especially mining companies, to Paraguay. 

Panama

“Panama cannot be left behind,” wrote Gabriel Silva, a congressman in the National Assembly of Panama, in response to Bukele’s announcement on June 7. Silva said that he would write an official proposal to support cryptocurrencies in Panama.

On June 9, Silva followed up with a public link to a Telegram group, soliciting ideas, suggestions, and opinions from anyone interested in helping to build the Bitcoin adoption proposal for Panama. 

Argentina

Francisco Sánchez, the National Deputy for the Argentinian city Neuquén, tweeted a picture of himself with laser eyes on June 7. There is no indication that any Bitcoin legislation is in the works in Argentina.

Brazil

Fábio Ostermann and Gilson Marques, two congressmen in Brazil, changed their profile pictures to laser eyes in support of Bitcoin. Notably, Marques was the first deputy in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies to declare, “Tax is theft.”

There is no indication that any Bitcoin legislation is officially in the works in Brazil.

Colombia

Jehudi Castro, formerly Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Digital Economy, is now an advisor to the Colombian President. Castro is a proponent of both Bitcoin and DeFi, recently writing, “DeFi is a great opportunity and Colombia is ready to embrace it.” 

While no bills to officially adopt Bitcoin are on the table, the Superintendency of Corporations in Colombia, the government’s official corporate watchdog agency, clarified in January that corporations can legally buy Bitcoin.

Mexico

Senators Indira Kempis Martinez and Eduardo Murat Hinojosa recently changed their profile pictures to laser eyes. Hinojosa wrote that he would propose legislation promoting a crypto framework in Mexico’s lower house.

Notably, the Mexican crypto exchange Bitso became Latin America’s first crypto unicorn after raising $250M in a Series C funding round and achieving a $2.2B valuation. 

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Economic Inclusion, Julio Eduardo Clavijo Acosta, changed his profile picture to laser eyes. There is no indication that any Bitcoin legislation is officially in the works in Ecuador.

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