El Salvador makes bitcoin legal tender
El Salvador has become the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender after Congress approved President Nayib Bukele’s proposal to embrace the cryptocurrency.
Bukele has touted the use of bitcoin for its potential to help Salvadorans living abroad to send remittances back home, while saying the U.S. dollar will also continue as legal tender.
The use of bitcoin will be optional for individuals and would not bring risks to users, Bukele said. The government will guarantee convertibility to dollars at the time of transaction through a trust created at the country’s development bank BANDESAL. Reuters (Tom Wilson)
Analysis: Bitcoin seems to be the wave of the economic future. The move will provide secure ‘buy and sell’ transactions for El Salvadorans who choose to participate. This will also be a boon to El Salvadorans who work abroad and send their wages home in the form of remittances. The issue could prove to be problematic, however, as bitcoin is more prone to market and other economic fluctuations. Look to other countries to jump on this alternative currency bandwagon.
Africa desperately short of COVID vaccine
In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack. In fact, it has barely gotten out of the starting blocks.
The World Health Organization says the continent of 1.3 billion people is facing a severe shortage of vaccine at the same time a new wave of infections is rising across Africa. Vaccine shipments into Africa have ground to a “near halt,” WHO said last week.
“It is extremely concerning and at times frustrating,” said Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, a Cameroonian virologist who is trying to ensure some of the world’s poorest nations get a fair share of vaccines in a marketplace where they can’t possibly compete. AP News (Gerald Imray)
Analysis: Vaccines are like most other commodities on the open market; unfortunately, many nations with small economies cannot compete and secure vaccines for their populations. Despite the efforts of rich countries to offer vaccines to poorer nations, the numbers are dismal. African nations face the same fate as India, where COVID spiked resulting in a total of nearly 600,000 deaths, unless a vaccine program is administered quickly.
Nicaraguan government launches mass arrests
President Daniel Ortega’s government has carried out sweeping arrests of his top challengers in the November elections, in a sharp escalation of political repression in Nicaragua.
Two of the presidential hopefuls were arrested on Tuesday — Félix Maradiaga, an academic and political activist, and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, an economist. During the past week, two others, Arturo Cruz and Cristiana Chamorro, were also detained. The Washington Post (Ismael López Ocampo and Mary Beth Sheridan)
Analysis: Daniel Ortega will do what it takes to stay in power. One of the oldest political strategies in the book to maintain power in a democratic government is to remove all competition at the polls. Arresting the opposition is one way to do so. This action is a challenge to the U.S. Biden administration, as Vice President Harris is in the region promoting good governance. Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term in November; polls show his popularity has dropped to its lowest point ever.