The Anniversary Of El Salvador’s Bitcoin Legal Tender Announcement
This is a recording of a recent Twitter Spaces conversation about the anniversary of the president of El Salvador announcing the country’s intention to make bitcoin legal tender.
Listen To This Twitter Spaces:
[0:06] Stacy Herbert: We’ll probably be out there on Friday for the event, the Meetup.
[0:13] Bitcoin Beach (Max Keiser): Awesome. Yeah, I’ll be in California. So I won’t be able to make it but I think it should be a good group.
[0:19] Stacy: Yeah, it’s pretty cold up here today in San Salvador. I’m actually wearing a sweater.
[0:26] Max: It’s nice when you get that little break.
[0:28] Stacy: I know.
[0:30] Q: So I know we’re going to be waiting for a few people to trickle in like, I see Max has made his way in, but I’d love to just start from the very very beginning. And while we have you are in my opinion at least the grandfather of bringing Bitcoin to ElSalvador, you rehashed the story a thousand times over. Without going into the depths of the detail, talk to us about what that first interaction with Bitcoin was like, and then fast forward to today and what you have seen come to life.
[1:13] Max: Sure. Yeah. I’ll just give a brief overview. So we’d been working in ElSalvador. For several years. Before we started injecting Bitcoin into the existing social projects we were doing. And we saw along the way just so many hurdles to bring in money in for different projects. We are doing for people that you know, living in poverty in the community where we’re at and seeing them be abused by the financial system and financial service providers just the percentage of their income, their pain and fees.And so back in 2019. We started paying a number of the kids that were doing different work in my community. Some part of that was trying to keep them out of the gang so it keeps them occupied and positive things. And so we started paying them to clean the river and pay them in Bitcoin brought on a couple stores initially kind of by, you know, leveraging the relationship we had with them and they were doing us a favor. And this grew and then, once the pandemic hit, we started doing UBI in Bitcoin to everybody in the community because they weren’t allowed to work. They were literally going hungry. And so it was one of those unique times where you could give resources broadly without worrying about it, distorting the local economy and so that was kind of what jump-started it. And then as all these other stores that the businesses that are accepting Bitcoin were booming, you know, and they hardly had any sales they started asking hey how can we participate in it? And so that was kind of the the early days and then it grew into, we started the country’s first lifeguarding program paid all them inBitcoin, it blossomed into the 20-something programs that we’re doing right now is part of Hope House and how we’ve seen it, really change was in the beginning. We really, you know, you had to tell people what Bitcoin … if we found the young people were much more open to transacting and kind of not being overwhelmed by it. And so, but in the early days, it was every additional person we had to really hold their hand as to where we go now. Almost everybody in El Salvador has heard of Bitcoin. Not maybe they haven’t used it yet but they surely have somebody close to them in their life that has used it on a regular basis. And we’re now seeing a lot of the knock-on effects. The positive knock-on effects of the Bitcoin adoption of all these businesses that are flooding in the number of wealthy investors. That you know, now having an El Salvador strategy is part of you know what they’re looking to roll out in the next few years and just people or hope that El Salvador’s kind of leading the way rather than trailing from behind. And so, it’s funny. You keep seeing all thesePublications, come out. Like only 20% of stores are using Bitcoin or it’s only accounting for 5% of, you know, the activity. I mean, if we have those type of numbers, any other country, we’d be screaming from the rooftops. And so, I think it’s been an unmitigated success where other people, you know, like the nitpick at these. You know, little things saying, well not everybody’s using Bitcoin. And so…
[4:28] Q: I love them and I love hearing how much it’s grown Max. I’m so happy that the bat last night didn’t scare you off and you’ve been able to join us as well. Stacy, thank you for capturing and sharing that video with everyone Roman you have I want to give you two guys, the next opportunity, Roman I know you’re boots on the ground a lot of stuff just with the community having lived in El Salvador for, correct me if I’m wrong, almost your entire life? I would love to just hear from you. Maybe not necessarily the onboarding experience but what the conversations have been from people who are not yet using coin? What’s stopping them? What do we need to do? What resources do they need more of to help expand and that work on the ground floor.
[5:26] Roman Martinez: What’s up guys? Hope everyone is good. Well I born in El Zonte, so I have been here entire life and that, yeah, like Mike say in his dream, everything started as a dream to change this community and the fact that we see between more as a tool is because we have been working in these. And these communities trying to empower the jump people, because they only dream was to leave the country or the only opportunities were like to be a fisherman or to be a farmer or to leave the country to the USA working there and sending money back to their family. So we have been trying to give these tools like English classes, computer classes, access to the university with a scholarship access to programs to surfing soccer’s, all these kind of 21 social initiative, that might mention it, that we are running here. And, and Bitcoin was that perfect tool that we were waiting to teach people about financial education. Like I think that was like that had been the the special thing and that in this community, I think the 90% of the people didn’t have access to the bank account, that’s means that being Hibachi still bank account access to saving actions to transact, digitally access to receive digital and make digital payments. So that conversation talking about digital money with the with the people is hard in the beginning to change that mindset about money. You know, that money is something that they can touch but in the same way, when they is more easier, when they when you explain them about the benefit that they can take about that they could, they can take about these new technology about these new digital money, right? I think people have been more even.They don’t get it fully in the beginning, but they see the benefit that they can take from there. And it’s hard to change that mindset, but it’s beautiful to see what started to happen, you know, because we see it people receiving the same amount of money now in Bitcoin and they start to saving, and they couldn’t make saving before, you know, because they didn’t have like a place where they can leave their money or or and everything came, with example, right? Like my nation that we started with the first kids, then with the first merchants. That was Mama Rosa, Jorge’s mom is like a local shop that you can buy like all your basic needed here in the community. And then when the other Merchants see like that she’s doing well there. Okay, there is Bitcoin in their community. You were gonna set this new money to, you know, and and if it’s it’s a slow, you know dedication. We one thing that we learning is like, we all need to be empathy. We all need to put time, some people get a like super fast and some people took more time, but I think we all need to put time in these and try to teach them the benefit because to understand Bitcoin is it’s hard in the beginning.
[9:17] Q: It’s still hard. Even now when it’s my full-time job, but I love that you’re absolutely right. That education is the most important thing. And Yusuf, the work you guys are doing not only all over the world, but most recently down in El Salvador, you prioritize education. Would love for you to just briefly share with us with everyone listening, the work, the built with Bitcoin was doing down in El Salvador last year.
[9:47] Yusuf: Hello to everybody. Hola buenos dias. It’s great to see so many familiar faces and to be able to hear the stories of everyone. El Salvador’s an extremely special pays place for us six years ago, when both [inaudible], and I, when we started the bill to a Bitcoin Foundation, it was always about providing equitable opportunity to access to natural resources to education, all through the power of Bitcoin. But when El Salvador adopted legal tender and we were able to go down there and see, truly something that we believe in so much. That is Bitcoin can provide the necessary fundamental tools fora better quality of life. How can you disagree with it for us? When it comes to our workin El Salvador, you know Mike to embed and others know, the kind of effort that it requires the empathy that respect at the Grassroots level and that takes time. And so, when it comes to adoption Universal adoption of Bitcoin. Education is obviously going to lead the charge and education, takes patience. One of the communities that were working in El Salvador, specifically is called East Lata Sahara. And what we were able to do there along with our friends at Bitcoin magazine was to build a Bitcoin boat to transport folks from the mainland to the island folks that wanted to be able to go to work to go to school. Didn’t have a true means of transportation. And so through the education of Bitcoin itself, you know, this boat was basically built so utilizing this. This mode of transportation kind of segued into learning more and more about Bitcoin and being able to use it safely and securely. It’s one thing to be able to learn how to useBitcoin. But one of the main things that we were hearing from folks who was, you know, the different scams that they were experiencing and that all has to do with being able to protect themselves with the level of Education that can be provided. And so for me the one thing that I can take away from El Salvador and its adoption is I’m so grateful. I’m grateful to be able to meet such beautiful and warm people. That’s one thing that I think we sometimes kind of forget when it comes to bitcoin. Is the human aspect that peer-to-peer kind of relationship building that we create with communities where we are all together in this fight, right? And, you know, I’m very grateful to be able to meet folks at Bitcoin Beach and all the work that everyone is doing in and around the country itself and being introduced to a beautiful place that goes out of order. I hope to spend my honeymoon there actually, and I would have never visited El Salvador. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for Bitcoin. And so Bitcoin has allowed me to be fortunate circumstances to be able to travel around the world, to be able to meet amazing people and to be able to see firsthand the positive effects that Bitcoin can provide communities around the world.That is the true message and story that needs to be told that the highest volcanoes and mountains around the world.
[12:57] Roman: Pupusas on me, Yusuf.
[13:01] Yusuf: Hermano. I’m coming next month, bro. I’ll be there. I appreciate that. I’ll be there next month. God willing.
[13:07] Q: An early, congratulations Yusuf. I know your wedding is this upcoming weekend. We’re all excited for you brother.Josh. Thank you so much for joining us, man. I want to let you have an opportunity now to share the work that you have been doing down in El Salvador, in the same vein as built with Bitcoin.
[13:27] Josh Young: Yeah, awesome. Thanks for inviting me. It’s such a privilege and an honor to be a part of this group here. Mike Peterson, Roman really, their work inspired everything, we’re doing down there. They inspired the president to adopt Bitcoin that got featured in Forbes and all the other things that really sparked and inspired our work withBitcoin in.In El Salvador, so new story charity has worked in El Salvador for six to seven years, have built close to 1,000 homes. And then when we saw the Forbes article and the president’s initiative to adopt Bitcoin, we saw a huge opportunity and me specifically, I pitched it to her CEO and hey, there are over 70 percent of people living in El Salvador, who are unbanked. Meaning, they have no credit history. They can’t get a loan. If they tried to get a loan, its predatory things that are offered. So if we use Bitcoin, people not only get a secure, transparent way to pay for a home, but an opportunity to do it without having to travel two hours, on a bus to a bank. So that gave me some autonomy to try this initiative and what we’re doing now is Bitcoin enabled payments for homes. New story is a housing nonprofit that focuses on innovation, all to make housing cheaper with the speed of construction faster all while maintaining, or even increasing the quality of homes, we want to build homes that last for generations. That families are proud of passing down to their children. And with that is an opportunity to innovate on the path to home ownership. So, the financing for homes is still leaving the bottom billion of people in income class. Excluding them from home ownership. So what we’re doing withBitcoin is enabling us to offer an opportunity for families to own their land and own their home. And we have just started construction on a minimum 250 homes, right in, El Zonte. We just finished construction on the first eight homes. That families are moving into and paying with Bitcoin for their house, and depending on their income level, we work with them to set an affordable price between 7 and 14 years, at 0% interest, the making payments from their couch, on their smartphone. They will own their land and their home. They will never have to worry about eviction or if someone’s going to take them off it, it’s theirs. And I think the fact that Bitcoin can allow that to happen not only in El Zonte but potentially around the world is the coolest thing. There is no better ask that or [inaudible].
[17:02] Mike: Hey Josh.
[17:03] Josh: Yes?
[17:04] Mike: This is Mike. Hey, why don’t you explain to them a little bit, just how expensive it was before, or in your other projects? Just the service, the loans, because a lot of people probably aren’t familiar with working with unbanked people. Why Is that such a barrier?
[17:18] Josh: Yeah, no doubt. I mean, first of all, we, being a non-profit allows us to take on more of the cost than a for-profit institution would ever take on. So we’re paying people to go to our communities to collect payments, it’s all done pen and paper, there’s no proof of transaction. If someone writes it down wrong, now you have a conflict, this is mostly a problem with the banks. People go two hours on a bus to the nearest bank typically have to take a day off of work because that’s when the banks are open. Make their payment wait in line and then two hours back. All without showing a proof of payment. Now, with Bitcoin, right on your ledger, you have instant proof of your transaction that you can show. And then with our work in particular, like, paying the person who goes to collect the payments, organizing all of that. And the process of, you know, making sure payments are made on time is such, it’s a hassle and working with families who are unbanked. There is no opportunity to do it any other way than cash and paper and pen. So being able to use Bitcoin over 90% of people in El Salvador, inLatin America, in general, have smartphones. So, just having that coin. All you need is a smartphone and then you can have a lot of opportunities to make payments the same way that I would from the U.S.
[19:06] Q: Thank you, Josh, for walking us through that. I’m sure they’re going to be more questions about that as we dive in. But I want to make sure everyone who’s joined us today. Has a chance to make like an opening remark at least. It goes to Max andStacy next you know, continue on the housing training you to really jump on that bandwagon move down there, and really have been showing everyone what it’s like being down there, helping Bukele, maybe navigate a little bit about how to grow Bitcoin’s presence. I’m going to stop talking and let the two of you may be share what you’re seeing doing and hearing while you’re living there.
[19:44] Max: Sure. I’ll jump in. So, you know, we’ve been covering Bitcoin since 2011, when it was a dollar and we’ve always tried to stay out in front and be the cutting edge, the bleeding edge of Bitcoin, and how it’s changing the world. And when El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender, it was obvious to us that we had to go there and be here. And so, every month, we are spending more and more time here and this is the Bitcoin Citadel. It has a remarkable impact on this country its finances. Its people, you let got to look at the whole picture here. Tourism, related to bitcoin is up hundreds of millions of dollars. Brand El Salvador is enjoying Global Prestige people are now associating, ElSalvador with economic freedom, they see it kind of as the new America. As America kind of loses its way and kind of falls by the wayside. People are looking for the newAmericas and El Salvador’s leading candidate for that. They’ve got an inward investment in the billions now. We’re talking to more than a billion dollars of inward investment, not including the volcano bond which is another billion dollars. You’ve got the president, in my view in my opinion because Bitcoin demonetized is hate and violence and changes people. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the president started going after all the domestic terrorists. You know, that was sent here from Los Angeles.And that’s the Bitcoin effect, you know, it monetizes peace and love, it de-monetizes hate and violence. So we’re seeing now a country where the homicide rate is crashed down to near zero. From being one of the most violent countries in the world to being one of the least violent. countries of the world. It’s the safest country in Latin America. So this is all part of the Bitcoin effect and it has taken the Citadel approach to this country and all $470 million investment in Bitcoin so far, they’re sitting on a 30 million dollar unrealized loss versus billions and economic improvement in the first year. You know, they’re gaining and that’s what Bitcoin going sideways. So this is just the beginning.
[22:11] Q: Stacy. If you wanted to jump in feel free to just interrupt me. I also want to let the man who helped initiate why I wanted to start this panel in the first place. I saved the best for last. Sorry. I am picking favorites, everyone. Jeff, thank you so much for coming and joining us today. This originally started as a conversation where we wanted to have with you, but I wanted to expand it to get so many different perspectives and I love to just have you now. Share what you’re noticing about El Salvador and the effects it’s having on the rest of the world.
[22:44] Jeff Booth: Yeah. Well, first of all that is not like some of the speakers on here.And way more instrumental here than I have. So, kudos to them on the call.What I would say is 2021 nation-state adoption was not on my BINGO card when I think about else and what ended up happening and how big a deal that is actually speaking to what, Max just said, I had to go down and see it for myself. So, Max and Stacy, kindly put together an event that where I could kind of see it for myself. And I went to met some of the politicians that works on the ground. And what I couldn’t get over is how it know, it’s early quite a bit. So you see the media taking down taking potshots about how many people are using it and that masks. And if you’re not deep enough into it, you miss what’s it’s actually doing to people’s lives in El Salvador, and the hope and what’s happening. And even if that starts small, what ends up happening is it spreads really fast. Because there’s a whole bunch of stories and really positive stories, that spread to other people. And that’s the feeling you get on the ground. So, yes, it’s early, but it’s unstoppable and it’s not just in El Salvador, that’s unstoppable everywhere in the world as a result. And I think El Salvador accelerated that process. And one of the things I think about a lot has I think about trying to teach TCP IP in the 90’s and that’s a really hard thing to do, but there’s a bunch of people on this call who are actually creating the product layer on top of Bitcoin, that is making the onboarding of the billions of people coming on easier and easier and easier. So it’s, it’s a wildly exciting time, I can’t believeI’d get to be a part of this change. But it’s a wildly exciting time.
[25:00] P: That’s such a great analogy train keeps people TCP/IP and the challenge is there versus what we’re experiencing these days.One thing that we were talking about earlier is about how countries that have not grownup or people that have not grown up with the United States dollar as their national currency specifically that people in places like El Salvador and the rest of South andCentral America and places like Africa where they deeply understand the issues with having an inflationary currency. A currency that is being inflated dramatically. We keep seeing or it feels like we keep seeing places outside of the United States that are in these situations that have experienced a situation where the dollar is the preferred currency. They seem to be able to get Bitcoin far more rapidly than a lot of the people in this country or in Europe. I’m curious to hear everybody’s thoughts on that and how that plays out.
[26:12] Jeff: So that plays out like any technology and it makes perfect sense. So, if you just said using it as a currency, it does it 10 times better in the US Maybe not yet, it will be. But maybe not yet because we’ve always been used to pretty reasonable inflation rate. But in other countries where currency is being devalued at a crazy rate. Then theBitcoin volatility is is nothing. It’s not a, it’s not a concern. So you have a 10-times advantage there. And just like all technology, what ends up happening is the monopoly tries to stop technology. But when technology brings that type of value to people most blocked by the monopoly is the people most blocked that go first. And it’s the same pattern you see in any technology in any phase change in technology. The people that are most benefited, try to stop it and the people that are most hurt by it go first and it’s really hard to stop a technology that empowers human beings from the bottom up. And in fact, I would say, it’s virtually impossible to stop and that’s what we’re seeing.When I was just in Oslo last week, one of the story that really rang true for me, and it’sP, it’s actually reinforcing what you’re saying kind of from kind of third world nations or de facto nations that were most hurt by a policy that it kind of the US policy, or the U.S. dollarization of the world. And the rightful elected president of Venezuela who was in hand. I can solitary confinement for four years because of that and essentially cut off from the system. And with where money was used to be able to bury him. Said to me, said in small group meeting. He said, what I thought is, I was on my own front line and also in Venezuela and I see other activists and other front lines and other places in the world. And then I see Bitcoin on their own front line. And I didn’t realize that we’re all on the same front line together. And that was front lines are now coming together.And people are actually taking the power that was rightfully theirs all the time, through the money into their own hands. And that’s a pretty powerful statement is more and more people start to understand it.
[30:52] Q: I want to give, you know, the opportunity for any of the panelists to ask each other questions. I know that I did my best to make sure that we source many people, from as many different walks of this experience of hyperbitcoinization in a concentrated part of the world. I’d love to maybe hear from Roman. You mentioned, education. We hear some of the issues on the technical side of the wallet rollouts as well. What are some more resources that maybe are needed, maybe some other developments that you guys who day-to-day interact and onboard new users down there are seeing could use for the development on.
[31:40] Roman: Sure. I think, from from the adoption and dedication is well for me, I see.We’re moving forward. And we see also other project trying too hard with education byMiami people in the parks, football. I can sell Bitcoin also all the controls in El Salvador, they’re doing like an amazing work advocating, like a lot of people, you know. And I think you just taking time. It’s putting time like. if you want that in one of the things that Bitcoin miners usually don’t understand, you know that they might be thinking that everyone needs to understand everything how Bitcoin works. And the reality is that, it’s not, you know, like the majority of the people, they need to understand how to transact, how to receive payment and Bitcoin, how to set up their wallet, how to set up their business with a wallet. And I will say this is just time and effort and I see more people coming here to help. Definitely, we need more material maybe in Spanish, you know. Another good thing that is happening now is that the minister of education. They asked all the organization if you want to call it is, like we’re helping with the Bitcoin education to help them to create like a curriculum, like a deeper model that they want to teach the public school and that came from the minister. We have been having a meeting with them with all that Miramar Beach, going factual, Bitcoin Beach. And we’re trying to help, but it’s beautiful to see from the minister of education are asking for help, you know, asking for a way that they can like teach in the public school that they can teach to the John people that about Bitcoin, the ABC, how they want to call it aboutBitcoin. Some people will say that the bit conduction is slow for me, what we see like three years ago when everything started hearing on El Zonte that you can pay only here and now you see all around the country that you can pay your electricity bills, your water bills, your phone’s bills. Like you can pay your hotels, you can pay almost everywhere.So I would say it’s just taking time, you know, to make changes about education, about cultural about money. It’s the time. So I will say materials maybe in Spanish and everyone that want to come here and visiting communities helping you know.
[34:49] Stacy: I think I’ll jump in because I’m the only speaker who has yet to speak andI’ll go back to the top and I have some stuff to say following up on what you’re talking about education. First of all, I do want to say that neither myself, nor Max, are advisors to the President. And I want to say that because I’ve seen several mainstream media outlets in the United States saying that, which I find incredibly racist because they feel like there is no way that President Bukele could have these sort of ideas on his own.That it must be from some Gringos. But I will tell you having witnessed how the situation is here that he’s in total command of what he’s doing. He in fact, in 2017, had tweeted that he would have, basically. It’s not actually the one year anniversary of him announcing this. He said in 2017 that if he were to become president, he would make aBitcoin legal tender. So I find that kind of funny, but in terms of education, you know, these are things that you see on the ground when you come here. First of all, okay, I mentioned that there’s a lot of, you know, mainstream media pretends, like it’s these Bitcoiners like Max and Stacy somehow control the president. When we first came here in November. I was scared to come here. Just like a lot of westerners because of the propaganda about how dangerous it is. Surely obviously, they had a lot of problems, as you see now, they’re dealing with that. But you know, we were afraid to come here and so my experience here was exactly the opposite of what I read about and that’s what we first started to do before we got into anything like investing or contemplating anything else, but changing that narrative. And that’s why we invited people like Jeff Booth down.That’s why we held all these public events so that people saw that people like Max and Stacy and Jeff Booth and Austin hill. We were onstage, we were out in public, we were walking around. We were able to move about freely safely without, you know, the risk that everybody was feeling because of what they read online.So when we hold a public event down in El Zonte, what you see is that people fly in from Scandinavia, from India, from all other parts of Europe from Canada. Because they know, they have a destination to hook onto. They’re like, well, I want to go there. I want to see the Bitcoin story there. But, you know, am I safe? Is it okay? So they plan their journey around. Okay, I’ll go there to see Max and Stacy and then, of course, they have an amazing time going to the volcanoes, the lakes, the surfing, [inaudible], you know, that whole thing and the education, you know, having been here for a while. Yes. Okay.We saw that they need more education on Bitcoin and there’s an amazing effort across like many, many, many layers here. Not only what Paxful and Casa del Bitcoin. You have Mi Premier Bitcoin is already in some high schools here across El Salvador. That’s driven a lot with Ibex Mercado is behind that initiative and inspired that, you have Torgos Github, which is kind of inspired on the model, ChainCode Labs and they’re kind of.Well, then the next level up, which is, you know, intermediate sort of coders. And they do this boot camp style of training them to be able to build on Lightning and Bitcoin. And then, we have Jimmy Song who was also down a Bitcoin Beach and inspired by the stuff that Mike Peterson and Trombetta, and Josh Young are doing and he’s coming back this July. And of course, his programming Bitcoin course is super intense. It’s like, it’s very elite level. Like you have to be a super coder already and we’ll have about 20 people that we’re going to educate here. They’re El Salvadorans and they’ll be like top-class Bitcoin programmers after his course in July. On top of that. You know, I work very closely with Bitfinex and they’re going to give, you know, a sizable amount of money to basically replicate Jimmy Song’s course in Spanish to teach, to train up some teachers to be able to teach his course in Spanish. And they’re going todo some other commitments towards funding education projects here on the coding side for El Salvador. But there’s like many layers many everybody’s providing education. This is going to be the most, you know, the center of excellence for Bitcoin programming for Bitcoin knowledge. I believe within two or three years.
[39:43] P: What do you attribute that to specifically besides, you know, I think that as you said, the kind of community that is developing there as to say, Bitcoiners who didn’t know as much about El Salvador or thought that it wasn’t safe. You guys are helping to build out this is really strong Foundation. But separate from that, specifically, what do you think is the the largest single contributor to the thing you just said that El Salvador is going to become the center of this educational space.
[40:19] Stacy: I think being here until you come here. It’s hard to describe what you see.Here, is a country that had hundreds of years of colonialism, followed by Civil War, followed by gangs, followed by as competitor had pointed out earlier. Like, Exodus people fled here. This was a place that you fled and all of these foreigners arrived here. Everybody wanting to come back here now, all the diaspora wanting to come back. It’s like people are still in shock. Like this is a total 180 turn, like it’s a rebrand of historic proportions. And I think it just generates so much like this vibe here is so positive that I think everybody wants to just help like as soon as like it. It’s like“kumbaya,” you know, everybody is this, you can’t help but go to Bitcoin Beach and you meet somebody and you meet or hey and you meet you know, all that locals of else on tape, but then you come into San Salvador, the people here. It’s just I think when they’ve had those decades and decades of bad times and now it’s good times and things are getting better. I just think you feel it all around you and you just want to participate in you want to help and you offer your expertise, whatever you could do to contribute to it. And I think that’s part of what is going on.
[41:48] Josh: Stacy, just because that’s. For me to come down kind of you in Bitcoin and everything else is one thing and to see it myself… I brought my wife and kids 17, 16, and 14. And when we went was in the height of the kind of gang violence and the papers were full of all what was happening and we decided we were going anyways.And when you meet how many beautiful people are on the ground and in El Salvador in the hope and everything else, it’s a feeling you cannot help but be kind of bullish on humanity, and the going forward and that lasted not, that’s not just with me that’s with my entire family. And they tell people, and they tell more. And more and more people start to say, “Wow. Okay. Well if you did it I’m going to go down to.” And so whatStacy is referencing there is, it’s hard to get that feeling unless you’ve actually been there and experienced it. But it’s really palpable.
[43:00] Josh: No doubt, the people foreign to El Salvador going down there, is so necessary for the next five years to a decade, but it’s really the people who live there now. I know from personal experience, I’m someone who’s single mom raised me and my little brothers in a one-bedroom, we all shared together. And it wasn’t until I had coaches and then I went to college, I had mentors. Each time I got a mentor my world opened and I realized, hey, I can do what they’re doing, you know. So when people in ElSalvador, the teenagers right now, they see Roman, they see Jorge Valenzuela, hey, then they’re growing up in that. Right now, they believe there’s hope this is the path to making myself what I meant to be and they’re using Bitcoin as a form to do that and they will innovate because of that. I really think it’s, you know, not immediately but a decade from now two decades from now it’s going to be the people from those, aren’t they growing up, And I’m gonna brag on one of our home beneficiaries, Ismael. He is a brilliant teenager, 19 years old, figured out a couple of different entrepreneurial things because of the mentorship. And seeing Roman and Jorge, do different things. And now, he has a couple of businesses. He is paying for his new story home for him and his mom, his family. At 19 years old, he’s doing that and he’ll be a homeowner this decade, completely own his own home. And that’s what’s gonna really make it. El Zonte, El Salvador, the Bitcoin nation, as the teenagers being inspired from what’s happening locally and realizing they are fully capable of doing it and that’s what’s going to get them the life they want. That’s what’s going to really expand Bitcoin and the work that it can do.
[45:30] Roman: Now that’s beautiful. One of the things that I want to, that is shocking to me that I never thought I will see it, is to see families to see people from all over the world coming to El Salvador and finding the hope and the freedom that used to be inCanada, used to be in the USA, in Europe, and now they’re finding here in our country.And for me, this is like, it’s a dream. You know, like always watching the positive way.Even now people want to come here and want to build a house here. They want to raise their kids here. They want to like a future job and come buy a house here and to see that, is beautiful. And this dream I think, we really believe it or young people here, have the tools, and the knowledge that they will don’t want to leave. If you go to us, Ismael, and say, do you want to live to the USA? He will say no. Because like, he’s doing here.He’s doing his fighting for his dream here. He’s making his dream come true here. And this is beautiful to see this dream here in El Salvador, that our country has hope and he’s dreaming again. So I think, the future looks great and super exciting.
[46:53] Stacy: That’s kind of why I like, even I say, maybe I’m a little bit over the top.Tweeting about El Salvador and all the positive stuff here is like because I feel like there’s so much negative stuff out there and, you know, Bloomberg writes negative stuff all the time. Wall Street Journal, writes negative stuff. I mean the Bloomberg journalist has spoken to me and I tried to tell him differently, but he keeps reporting that just the negative stuff like saying Bitcoin is a failure here. I’ve told him these things and like look at this hope talk to Jim Betar, Like go, see for yourself. Like the people, you know, that’s worth so much more. How do you even like, you know, the mainstream media will look at, in terms of just Bitcoin like the price and like what price can you possibly put on that story that Jim Betar just told you? What price can you put on not losing your family to emigration? What price can you put on having dignity and hope and sovereignty?
[48:00] P: One thing that I find really interesting, Stacy, is that everyone who is, in my opinion, the wrong side of this tries to frame this idea that if Bukele, that is to say, if ElSalvador fails in this, the adoption of Bitcoin that that is somehow a massive blow against Bitcoin or a refutation of everything that all of us up here believe in when it comes to bitcoin. And it’s so hard for me to relate to that, like, I think that El Salvador is absolutely going to be successful in what it’s trying to do using Bitcoin. But I find that angle really interesting. Like everybody leans so heavily into trying to prove that this is not going to work and then relate it back to why Bitcoin is fucked up or something like that. If you notice about that.
[48:45] Stacy: That’s what I said, it’s not even it will succeed. It has succeeded MikePeterson pointed that out earlier. It’s been a wild unmitigated success. [crosstalk] It’s because to rebrand a nation like that. With such a bad – go Google it right now. It’s still there on Google, the results are horrible: homicide, kidnapping, murder, death, despair, don’t do it, gangs, violence all is like nasty stuff. Yeah. Now the rebrand is dramatic but also profound down to the individual level where you do have this transformation of the psychology here. I think Jeff Booth writes about this a lot and talks about this a lot. The positivity begets positivity and more positive things will come and more excellence will come. And as soon as you have more excellence here, that brings in more excellence like Renaissance 1.0, that’s how Florence became what we know today. So, hundreds of years later. I think the same thing will happen for El Salvador.
[49:50] P: Absolutely. Yeah. I meant in terms of the narratives that are being like pushed on mainstream or a push by mainstream media.
[49:57] Jeff: See I have a comment there. [crosstalk] It’s tied into something I did while I was down there. So, in the mainstream, I have yet to see since publishing kind of the thesis and press tomorrow. I’ve yet to see a way to solve the problem from the existing system without making it worse. So the entire system, even Max knows as well, it’s insolvent, completely insolvent. The only way to do retain the semblance of solvency is to drive coercion and manipulation. It’s just the truth and I wish that wasn’t the truth. But it is the truth on our existing monetary system all over the world. And I have not seen before Bitcoin a path to the other side. So it makes sense if people didn’t know that and they’re measuring through a system and their wealth is driven from that system. For them to disregard how powerful this innovation is from the bottom up. It makes total sense. One of the things I wanted to do, when I was in El Salvador, I heard how negative kind of the YPO or their Power Players, the former money by all the big companies were against Bukele and Bitcoin. So, I just wanted to go and understand it from their perspective, but I want to. So I gave a speech to the YPO Network there. After going through this, we spent two hours going through it and you could see that a bunch of the people in the room understood how profound to change this wasn’t how powerful it was.And if they got on board early and actually credit products here, they could actually create great businesses as well. And so I could see that change but when and then one of the people that was probably most out and most anti-Bukele asked me a question. He goes, “Okay. Well if all these things are so positive about Bitcoin, what’s the worst thing about Bitcoin?” I said, “The worst thing is, people that you hate are going to use it too and they’re going to make it stronger for you.” And that was the thing that turned him and it wasn’t that and whether he’s all the way turned, but he, but he couldn’t get out of he was attracted. He was attaching the personality that he was against Bitcoin instead. And so he couldn’t see the hope in it because of that. And I think a lot of people get caught in that because of their own self-interest and the existing system.
[52:26] P: That is such a profound statement. It’s really interesting. That was the thing that basically the thing that was preventing her from understanding it was that he had this emotional attachment or negative association with the specific people that he was associated with Bitcoin.
[52:47] Jeff: And by the way, you’ll see that on Bitcoin Twitter. You’ll see the whole bunch of people that are kind of anti-Bitcoin or so. Shooting the people instead of the underlying kind of math behind it, or what it actually means. And they do that, without any potential solve from the existing system and it’s just from an emotional day base. SoI think that’s pretty standard. That’s pretty, if you look across society, you see that everywhere.
[53:17] Bitcoin: I saw that directly with one of the reporters and from one of the outlets there, this very anti-Bukele and I was talking to him about Bitcoin. I basically pulled out of them and or I questioned like so what you guys are really scared of is that Bitcoin is going to be a wild success. Like that’s what you’re worried about, it’s going to be successful for El Salvador and that’s going to help the president. You’re not actually worried that Bitcoin is going to damage the country and he basically admitted that, yes, that was the case that they had basically painted themselves into a corner because they were attacking, they were associating Bitcoin with Bukele and so they were hoping it would fail. And they were actually starting to realize, the more work they were doing, the more research they were doing, that they were on the wrong side of this. And for a lot of them, they just don’t know what direction to go now because they don’t want to give Bukele a win, but they also realize that they’re on the wrong side.
[54:18] P: Did you have to consider asking them if they like to have fun?
[54:24] Bitcoin: But it was an interesting conversation because there he was. This individual was honest about it. They were like that. That was the fear of this whole thing. I’m so, I just questioned. Would you rather El Salvador suffer? Would you rather they persist and the economic malaise that they’ve been in, for four decades, or do you want them to go forward? Are you going to really like, keep a great tool from the people because you don’t want a politician to have a win and so I think that it’s becoming less and less political the further we get into it.
[54:57] P: Yeah, how fucked up is that? That the people you’re talking about are willing to see separate from whatever they have against whatever, manufactured things they have against Bukele and the government of El Salvador to be willing to condemn an entire country’s people to suffer just because you cannot stand to see a single person or a single leader succeed at some dark shit.
[55:29] Max: Yeah, but that’s the entire fiat system, right? So it’s all proof of stake it.That’s what we’re, that’s the era that we’re leaving, we’re leaving the fiat mentality and the proof of stick mentality. We’re going into the Bitcoin hero where nobody has control. And so you have to bring your heart into the picture and leave your nastiness behind or you’re going to perish. That’s the error. That’s the shift.
[55:56] Q: You know, Max, you took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for saying it much more eloquently than I ever could have. We saw while the old world order was meeting in Davos, a new world order was meeting down in El Salvador. AndI’m curious, not alluding to you guys, maybe knowing but more, what was the vibe? What was the relationship with these different countries coming in? Did they leave happier? Did they leave optimistic? Would they leave angry?
[56:32] Roman: Definitely, they see the future guys. Nikolas and me, and class burning from the Sea of Galilee. The creator of the Bitcoin DISH wallet. Me, and him, we have the chance to have a presentation during their conference in San Salvador. And the whole point was talking about financial inclusion. We were there all day, listening about all the challenge and the problem that they were facing, all these countries were facing.Me and Nikolas, we would like, but we can fix all of these digits need to adopt him victory. And all these problems that there are talking of now like, Financial inclusion how to bring the access to all these problems, you know. But by the way, we have a presentation in that day, in some software, he was like another presentation. I talked about how Bitcoin is good for communities. Our community hardly changing and class talking about how the benefit of the country, why Bitcoin is good for the countries. I was like, in the end of the day, they listened, they were like a lot of interests, a lot of questions after the presentation, but we couldn’t have liked a lot of time. Nikolas answered many of these questions and they knew it, you know. They knew what’s happening here and I told them, like, make sure you you’re here in El Salvador. Make sure to understand a why El Salvador is a Bitcoin legal tender because all the problems that you are facing now are similar with problems that our country is facing now and between he’s fixing all of them and that day we don’t allow Bitcoin wallet. We put ten dollars in the wallet because two days later they would be seeking Bitcoin in El Zonte and we were like, okay, did they do it? They will come? They will not gonna be that open, you know, like, we will see how it’s gonna be. And we were waiting for them in the heart. And [inaudible], Martin’s takes its favorite place in the El Zonte. We waited for them there, and they arrived super casual, super open. Like they were 90 people. We made five groups and we’ll be visiting hotels that accept payment to your credit card, debit cards, cash, Bitcoin. We’re buying the shops, like small merchants in the street, that don’t have access to any financial products and we buy from the vendor in the street and all of them they were like, excited about it. Like you’d look, they were a lot of pictures and pretty sure you see it and the first transaction that they did, they were like, I don’t know. Like, when you see that there, they definitely get it, but we’ll see what’s going to happen. But that day was super exciting for everyone here to see all of them, making transaction lines on the network. Buying like, sodas buying tamales in the street paying for a drink, for a beer. So what’s a good experience. I will see, they got it. They see why El Salvador is adopting Bitcoin a legal tender.
[60:01] Bitcoin: I think it was so great that it was in El Salvador that they were seeing this happen. Because if it was Singapore, Switzerland, they would say, well, that’s fine for there. But, you know, we’re just, we don’t have the resources in our country, but they understand. El Salvador has the same challenges with poverty. They have the same lack of infrastructure. They have the same challenges and the people here are usingBitcoin freely. That people that you know, ten-year-olds, 80-year-olds` people that live without electricity. They can transact with Bitcoin, you know, like people in U.S. do with them though, and so I think it was great for the central Bankers to see that happening in real time in El Salvador.
[60:42] Q: Love that. Love hearing the positive experience for all of these Central Bankers, I do want to touch on like you bring up, you brought up how the media has not been very kind to bouquet lie or the Bitcoin experiment. I’m curious. What if any of you doubt in El Salvador have seen from citizens themselves what some of their concerns or some of their reasons why they don’t want to use Bitcoin yet.
[61:18] Bitcoin: I think it’s just we’re creatures of habit and so these things they take time for people to change over. I mean it’s the same when people when credit cards came on the scene it was a slow transition to people. You know, there are still a lot of people that don’t use credit cards even in the US. And so, I actually think it’s happening faster than I imagined. But I think the uptakes have been more substantial than I was expecting just knowing that. And you know, we’re literally like a year since the announcement. Not even a year from the enactment of the law. So these things don’t happen overnight. ButI think five years from now, you know, it’s going to be hardly anybody that’s not transacting in Bitcoin. And so, I’ll always laugh when I see the negative articles about how it’s a failure. I don’t even disagree most of the time, with the statistics they are using. But for me, twenty percent of businesses like accepting Bitcoin. Like, I see that as an unmitigated triumph, the fact that 5% of transactions are happening in Bitcoin like that’s amazing. And so, I think it’s just the perspective.
[62:25] Stacy: I want to also mention. I’ve said this in other forms before but you know, if you lived in Europe back in the early 2000s, after they introduced the Euro every nation-state, kind of had their own level of distrust of this new currency. And France, the French are obsessed with purchasing power, obsessed. If you’ve ever been to one of their protests, their manifestations, like, in their one-stop like always you often see signs about the purchasing power, they want to secure their purchasing power. So you know, for a decade you would have the price in every shop for your coffee, at the supermarket in euro and franc. So they wanted to because they were distrusted that the European bureaucrats weren’t going to screw them on, you know, inflation. So it’s just a natural process of, you know, learning to trust the new currency. So I think like Mike said, I think it’s just a process that they have to go through. But I don’t actually think, you know, at this point you know, what this has been a fight from since, you know, I was in Bitcoin from 2011 and people were talking about adoption back then and and you know. Are we PayPal or we Visa like let’s get into this shop. Oh look, like it’s always been a celebration of every time you can use Bitcoin anywhere. But right now, post February 26, I kind of feel like El Salvador, maybe people don’t realize it yet and maybe the markets might tend to sometimes take a while to react to something but on February 26, when the U.S. froze reserves of Russia. That was I think like Monumental event in history, you know. Hundred years from now, people will look back at like that is the day. The very day that the US dollar really like disintegrated, they imploded it. And so the fact that on a nation state level, that it’s the nation state itself that has in their treasury. I think that right now in this moment in history is the most important thing rather than whether you are not, you can buy a pupusa with Bitcoin because I think things are going to play out very differently over the next few months and years. As you see the consequences of that. Like the fact that China obviously has trillions and trillions of dollars of Treasurys. I think there will be a response to it. And I think we haven’t yet seen it. But I think we’ll soon see that, it was good that El Salvador has it on their balance sheet.
[65:10] P: Yeah, I agree with what Stacy said, except for the probably play out over a longer time. Like, if the US actually tightens, you’re going to go into deflationary spiral, everything was going to wipe out around the world. And which means they won’t tighten for a long and they’re going to but as they print more and and essentially try to make their current debt to GDP a lot smaller by driving hyperinflation for years or high inflation for years. That’s going to have a knock-on effect all around the world and off out of the other side of that. Every all of that knock-on effect. I don’t think people understand how fast Bitcoin, how fast other nations start to wake up to Bitcoins value here. So they haven’t. There’s a lot of projections through the existing system and we’ve never gone through a currency reset like this. We’ve never gone through currency would reset like this without a global conflict. We’ve never gone through a global currency reset like this where people could escape the reset by moving to Bitcoin. And companies can reset the escape by going to bitcoin and nation states can reset it by buying bitcoins at each one of them makes the entire network stronger in a peer-to-peer fashion. And so, there’s a lot of commentary looking at history of what what this will look like including in the U.S. on how they’re going to be able to kind of make this transition. Without an understanding of what people will do now that they’re given a choice.
[66:45] Max: Right. Well to just, to follow up on that. I think what everyone’s talking about here is we’re transitioning to a world where energy is priced in Bitcoin and so that will be the big reveal. Countries who are big energy and commodity producers are going to be doing extraordinarily. Well, in that environment, folks who don’t have that kind of resource and have a lot of debt and paper money, you’re not going to do so well.
[67:09] Josh: Since you have an excellent point that it feels as though any nation state that it’s even concerned about stepping out of line, if you will, should, have just watched what happened to Russia and immediately went and just bought as much Bitcoin as they could have. And yet we don’t see as many nations adopting Bitcoin through the lens of or putting money in our reserves, or holding it on our balance sheet. We see Central African Republic saying they’re going to legalize it or make it an official currency.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.