El Salvador is rapidly approaching the authoritarianism that Nicaragua is experiencing, human rights defender warns

Celia Medrano warns that the Nicaraguan regime took twenty years to forge, while the Salvadoran regime has only been two years old and shows a rapid pace.

Celia Medrano, a renowned human rights defender, is not optimistic: she sees a democratic debacle and a government that becomes increasingly aggressive against those who question it. In a conversation with El Diario de Hoy, he expressed his concern about the growing attacks on independent journalism, the opposition, and drew a discouraging simile between El Salvador and the crisis in Nicaragua.

Vice President Félix Ulloa said that if the government won a parliamentary majority, it would be less aggressive. Do you think this has happened?
In my opinion, the power groups that control the Executive Branch have not ceased to be confrontational, in fact they have escalated the level of confrontation, because now they have the power for that confrontation and attacks on any critical sector classified by them as opponent have legal retaliation. So they have not only maintained hate speech, confrontational speech, but have escalated it into legal action or acted on what would be called a legalistic foundation of things.

Like what?
I see it in the expulsion of the editor of El Faro. The answer has been that he did not have a work permit and was working on a tourist visa, a legalistic argument for one more clear retaliation against El Faro and not even with the sufficient legal structure. Because if he was already processing his permit, what corresponded was a call and a fine. Not your removal, not your deportation.

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Do you see it also in the supposed anti-corruption fight of the government?
With this there is a practice of escalating retaliation, hate speech and to legal levels, such as the commission that investigates NGOs who have received money from the Legislative Assembly. Not all of them would necessarily be facing a situation of corruption. However, it is necessary to wonder if the NGO linked to the deputy (Guillermo) Gallegos would be investigated, because it also responds to the previous efforts.

Guillermo Gallegos has been singled out for various acts of corruption.
Photo EDH / Jessica Orellana

Do you think that this will institutionalize the closure of critical spaces?
Nicaragua is a very good example of how far such legislation can scale. What was previously only an official speech issued from the Executive Power, now is aggravated because they have control of the Legislative, the Judicial and that they have their own prosecutor.

Do you see a commitment from this government to human rights?
The proposed Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders was one of the almost 100 proposed laws that were filed. It will depend on the mobilization of the organizations of human rights defenders to return the issue to the table, as has happened with the proposal, with the issue of the human right to water. At least that the subject returns, that the Assembly has the urgency to approach the subject again. At the hearing generated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights two weeks ago, the State was not present. It is the first time in decades that there is no government representation.

Why?
They argued that because there was disproportionality, there was a large presence of non-governmental organizations. It remained practically unnoticed by the national opinion in the country that the Government in decades, for the first time and in the way of Venezuela, in the way of Nicaragua, does not attend a convocation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is serious and that reflects their level of political will with regard to human rights.

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador. / Photo EDH Yessica Hompanera

In what sense?
For me, the current government has a biased application of what it understands as people’s rights: it depends on who the violator is and it depends on who is the person to whom the will or the right is given. Thus, the issue of universality, of complementarity, of the right to non-discrimination with respect to human rights cannot be worked on.

For example?
A police inspector beats a journalist while complying with his task of documenting an event related to disappearances and murders, homicides and is filmed, but the prosecutor publicly assures that the video is not enough to generate a process. Let’s think what would have happened if it had been the other way around and a journalist had aggressively exceeded the order not to stop, would have pushed the policeman and that would have been filmed. The scenario would have been totally different. So this government is applying the law according to the convenience of who violates the law, who violates human rights or who is the victim. If the victim is a person not related to the official narrative, the protection mechanisms are not activated.

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How do you see the right to dissent?
There is an issue of prosecuting the protest and criminalizing dissent. I insist once again that we must see ourselves in the mirror of Nicaragua. It is the closest we have and is the reflection of what we can become. Of course, Nicaraguan leaders tell us that El Salvador is going much faster. Ortega took 20 years to have what he has now. We are in a matter of two or three years in very similar scenarios. And when democratic spaces are closed, the first to be hit are human rights defenders and independent journalism. And currently they are the next enemy. Enough analysts have already been heard to argue that within the populist discourse, staying in power requires enemies, inventing enemies.

This government offered modernity and freshness. Is it really that?
History repeats itself, again we are in scenarios where democratic spaces begin to close. And the population would begin to experience firsthand the consequences of the closure of those spaces. The lack of controls between the organs of the State, for example, is a lesson of centuries. And the population is going to wake up, realizing what is really happening. Nowadays, it seems that they only removed some magistrates and put others, but one thing is the defense in the abstract of the republican system and the democratic institutionality and another is when I live the consequences directly when that translates into the egg carton , milk, oil, gas are increasing significantly.

Is there something to do about it?
I argue that it is too late to be able to reverse the damage that has already been caused to this democracy, to this weak democratic institutionality built since the signing of the Peace Accords. Many say that just as we punished Arena, the FMLN and the Christian Democratic Party 40 years ago, we are going to punish New Ideas, but we do not realize that they have been given so much power that they are simply going to change the rules of the game and the same Constitution. That can mark us a scenario of no less than 20 years to recover what was lost.

Do you see any simile with our history?
We could compare the current moment with the end of the 60s, where protests began to be repressed, there were electoral fraud, it no longer mattered that you resorted to the vote to want to change things, because the entire structure was already designed for electoral fraud . But the proof is very old that the more repression is generated, the discontent accumulates and sooner or later the situation explodes.

Message during a civil rally at the Monument to the Constitution. Photo EDH / Menly Cortez

Is it valid for you to speak of a dictatorship in El Salvador?
What happens is that we want to talk about military dictatorships in the style of Pinochet, in the style of Duvalier or Somoza. Modern dictatorships do not necessarily have to have the same profile, which is why it is very difficult to speak of a dictatorship in El Salvador. Although I do not doubt that the authoritarian and autocratic demeanor of the groups that control the Government. That we are heading towards a dictatorship, I do not dispute it, but it would not be one of those who would affirm that there is already a dictatorship.

Don’t you see a return of the armed forces to politics?
Yes, there is a militarization of politics and a very large militarization of public activity. The military have once again had powers that they should never have had. And the incident that occurred with the journalist Beltrán and the inspector (of the PNC) raises us the concern that the attack on someone is justified. And suddenly an armed policeman who beats a journalist is declared a national hero. This boasting in this way to the institutional armed sector, the Armed Forces and the Police is extremely serious. It takes us to times when we live in conflict.

What tools are there from the international community to stop the authoritarian drift?
It is a question that can have a very frustrating answer. For me, a very strong indicator has been that there was no state representative at the meeting that was called by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, until there is a sufficient orchestra of the international community that results in other types of sanctions. The mirror of Nicaragua gives us the alerts. We must reflect on what is happening.

And in this process, do you think there will be a large exodus of Salvadorans?
Yes, it is the next point. We can no longer only speak of forced migration caused by non-state actors with the license and responsibility of the State. Now we are already learning about the forced migration of people who are talking about political persecution in this country. Then we will once again have requests for refugee and asylum from actors who will state that they are the object of persecution, not only from non-state entities such as gangs or organized crime, but also from State agents for belonging to a political party, for being a journalist, for be from a non-governmental organization qualified by this government as an opponent. There is nothing that tells us that this will decrease if people continue to perceive this political crisis in their daily lives.

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Honduras does not plan to play eliminatory matches in the United States as El Salvador does

Houston, United States.

The National Autonomous Football Federation of Honduras (Fenafuth) does not consider leaving San Pedro Sula to play home matches for the Concacaf qualifying round for the Qatar 2022 World Cup in the United States, despite the coronavirus restrictions in our country regarding the entry of fans to stadiums.

This is because the Salvadoran Football Federation has begun all the efforts to play its commitments towards the World Cup at home in North America because the Cusco government has made the determination to suspend the entry of fans to sporting events due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 and they are looking to do it in Los Angeles, Houston and Washington.

Fenafuth, despite the fact that at this time Sinager has not authorized the entry of the public to the stadiums in National League matches, it is not planned in any way to go to the United States where the restrictions for Covid-19 disappeared for public events and where Economically, he would do much better than playing in San Pedro Sula, since the cheapest ticket for a soccer game is $ 30.

“In this issue there are two things; You cannot play in another country just because you feel like it, firstly the US Soccer (United States Soccer Federation) must say yes, there is no way without that, then make a decision of that one loses the locality, it is given away An El Salvador-Honduras match in Cuscatlán is not the same as in Los Angeles and we already saw it in a previous Gold Cup, so for us being local is worth a lot, ”said Gerardo Ramos, manager of the Honduras National Team.

He hopes that in the coming days the country’s health authorities can approve the biosafety protocols that the National League together with the Federation and a team of specialists propose to Sinager so that the Apertura 2021 tournament begins with open gates.

“We are working on the biosecurity issue, by the time we face the United States on September 8, they should have played five games with fans, after the protocols we have to set up the entire administrative issue, we have to do things well, that at the same time League will approve it and thus it gives us the opportunity to play with the public because it is the same permission for both teams and the national team ”, he explained.

HIGH PRICE TICKETS

In the event that the doors of the Honduran stadiums are reopened, it is expected that it will be with 30% of the capacity of each stadium and in the case of the Bicolor it has been known that the ticket prices will be high.

Although it is not official, the value of a ticket for the town of sol would not cost less than 500 lempiras and could even be higher as in the preferred sectors, chair and box where they will have more than 100% increase since The number of fans will be between 10 and 12 thousand viewers due to all the Covid restrictions.

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Electricity rates will rise between 6% and 17% from today in El Salvador

One of the reasons for this rise is because biomass power generation fell in May, which has required a greater dependence on oil, which is also on the rise.

The price of electric power for the residential area will rise between 6% and 17% as of this quarter compared to the previous one for CAESS and Delsur clients, respectively. These are the two main energy distributors in the country that provide service to more than 1 million households and concentrate more than 2 million customers (between households and companies).

According to the tariff schedules of these companies, published in the main newspapers on July 15, the price per kilowatt / hour for CAESS customers that consume up to 99 kilowatts will go from $ 0.134 in the previous quarter to cost $ 0.1494 from July ; and for Delsur customers, the cost per kilowatt hour that was previously $ 0.140 will now go to $ 0.1581.

These same values ​​are similar for homes that consume more than 100 kilowatt hours and for the general use rate.

And if the increase since January is taken into account, the increase in the price of energy has been 19% in the case of CAESS customers and up to 31.6% in the case of Delsur customers.

Electricity blackout affected four Central American countries

This cost of energy is only one of the three that make up the electricity bill, to which must be added distribution and marketing costs. These last two remain the same for this quarter.

As an example, last quarter a family paid $ 13.26 for the cost of energy, but this next quarter they will have to pay $ 15.6 assuming they consumed the same 99 kilowatts if they are a DelSur customer. To these costs must be added the charge for distribution and commercialization of your distribution company.

The data are not applied by the companies, but are the result of the power generation that the country has had in the three months and are released by the General Superintendency of Electricity and Telecommunications, SIGET.

This time, the increase in the price of energy is associated with a decrease in the generation of energy with biomass, that is, that produced through sugarcane bagasse.

Because the harvest ended in April, the mills stop producing this energy and it must be supplied with another source.

The data from the Transactions Unit (UT) show this: in February, in the middle of the harvest, biomass generation represented 20% of the total energy produced while thermal (bunker-based) only represented 5.8% of the total. But as of May the numbers were reversed, as biomass generation was reduced to 5.1% and thermal generation reached 21.3% of the total.

Carlos Martínez, a professor of electrical engineering and an expert in the area, said that these data show that the country has begun to depend on more oil in recent months and since it has risen in price internationally, it has also raised the costs for the country.

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“We are using more oil and it is more expensive internationally. We are seeing it in the price of fuel ”, he said.

Water generation as of May remained at 16%. This percentage tends to rise in the winter, which could lower the cost of energy for the next quarter.

Guatemala will exit the Regional Electricity Market

On the other hand, according to a publication of the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Pedro Brolo, presented on July 12 a complaint of the Framework Treaty of the Regional Electricity Market of Central America, with which he also showed his interest in leaving this market, which supplies energy throughout the region.

The exit would not be immediate, because according to the Treaties and protocols, it would become effective 10 years after filing the complaint, which means that Guatemala will have to remain in the Regional Electricity Market until July 2031.

Guatemala is one of the main energy providers of El Salvador. Until May, 26% of all the energy available in the country was imported.

However, the general manager of the Transactions Unit, Luis González, said that the neighboring country’s decision will not affect energy imports, as Guatemala will continue to be connected to neighboring countries through the Transmission infrastructure.

This will allow imports to be maintained within the next 10 years.

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‘There is nothing to discuss about Conejo Island’: President Hernández

Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, said this day that “there is nothing to discuss” about belonging to the country of the rabbit island, in the gulf of Fonseca and whose name resounded in the Congress of El Salvador, neighboring country, in recent days, as a result of a possible proposal of a legislator to the president of that country by the “Recovery“of the island territory.

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Hernández, in a public event this Monday in Tegucigalpa, spoke in this regard: “We are clear about what the decisions of the International Court of Justice in The Hague; therefore, there is nothing to discuss. “

That court ruled in that year that the island, whose surface is 0.5 square kilometers (50 hectares), which belongs to Honduras, in a statement that dragged years of brawls and conflicts between the two Central American countries by territorial pockets in the western region of Honduras and the Gulf of Fonseca, in the ocean peaceful.

The Salvadoran deputy Guillermo Gallegos, of the party WINS, an ally of the president of that country, Nayib Bukele, declared in recent days that he would urge the president to mount a strategy to recover the island in the gulf.

What’s more: They ask Nayib Bukele to recover Conejo Island that belongs to Honduras

“The matter of the rabbit island Sometimes they use it to divert internal issues, but I have been there many times since I was a deputy and people from Honduras and El Salvador have also been, recognizing that this is a Honduran territory, “Hernández stressed.

At the same time, the Honduran president stressed that the issue should not be debated and that as a government they will seek to “get to work in the Gulf of Fonseca as development zone“.

Finally, Hernández reflected that this coastal area, shared with Nicaragua and El Salvador, has “great potential for the three countries.”

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“The US has used the carrot and the stick to solve the crisis, but Bukele seems to be opting for the stick,” says Barclays

The British financial entity warns that in August the Government has to make a payment of more than $ 800 million and if the Government does not obtain financing, an extreme solution could be the nationalization of pensions.

In a new financial analysis on El Salvador, the London-based financial services company, Barclays, warned this Friday that the President of the Republic, Nayib Bukele, is increasing political tensions rather than helping advance a negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “could lead to a further escalation of international tensions that run the risk of ending the country’s isolation,” which would further damage the Salvadoran economy.

“Instead of using its political capital to promote reforms to the economy, it has prioritized its political agenda of concentration of power,” the document states.

The document released this Thursday indicates that institutional and governance factors are key to achieving this agreement and this has been clarified by the United States, which has stressed that any financial support to El
Salvador is conditioned to maintain respect for democratic institutions and the adoption of anti-corruption measures.

These conditions were reiterated by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who visited the country on June 29 and met with President Bukele, in an attempt to reduce political tensions with the United States. However, Barclays points out that despite the efforts of the American country, Bukele’s decisions seem to go the other way.

Engel List: Bukele Officials Among Those Designated For Corruption By US

“The United States has used both the carrot and the stick in its attempt to negotiate a resolution to the crisis; however, Bukele seems to be opting for the stick ”, indicates the analysis of the British company.

A week ago the United States published part of the Engel List in which it implicates several officials of the Bukele government in corruption and money laundering and eliminated their visas.

Despite the red flags cited by the US, President Bukele has shown no signs of backing down on his current path. His response to the Engel List was: “El Salvador has its own list and the administration has begun to take action against its political opposition.”

For Barclays, the worrying point is that the government faces a key test in August as the administration needs to have $ 800 million for debt service payments amid declining reserves and government assets.

“While most of this debt is internal and refinancing these liabilities could be a reasonable assumption, it cannot be assumed that these internal debts will be automatically carried over, given the pooled nature of the payments and what appears to be pressure. of liquidity for the government and the economy in general. “An extreme solution could be the nationalization of the pension system to obtain the necessary financing,” indicates the finance company.

Barclays recalls that last week the Legislative Assembly made reforms to decrees 608 and 804 to give the government greater liquidity. However, he is concerned about statements from the Treasury that deny a new bond issue, but that leave the door open for any possibility.

“The level of discretion makes El Salvador’s political outlook very uncertain and, we believe, it is likely that it could deteriorate further,” he warns.

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More than half of Salvadorans reject Bitcoin

Study presented by the UFG revealed that the population mistrusts the cryptocurrency.

52.1% of Salvadorans do not agree on the use of Bitcoin and another 30% do not trust the cryptocurrency,

According to data from a survey revealed yesterday by the Francisco Gavidia University, two months after the Bitcoin Law enters into force.

The survey: “Salvadorans think about the Bitcoin Law: Do they accept and receive?” It was carried out by the Disruptiva magazine and the Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (ICTI), both units of said university.

Oscar Picardo, director of the ICTI, explained that the data reflected in the question: “Do you trust the criteria of President Bukele in this decision to adopt Bitcoin?” are key to understanding that not only do people distrust and reject Bitcoin, but that Bukele has lost popularity.

Can read: This is ECLAC’s warning about Bitcoin in El Salvador

“The study itself reveals that 3 out of 10 people have lost confidence in the president who until this date had a very wide popularity,” said Picardo.

The data collection was carried out from July 1 to 4 of this year with 1,233 effective ballots nationwide and has a 95% confidence level; was made with a view to the entry into force of the Bitcoin Law on September 9.

The study revealed very important data, since two months before the regulations come into effect, 68.4% said they did not know the Bitcoin Law; 21.9% know a little about it and only 9.6% said they know it.

Furthermore, 53.5% of Salvadorans consider that Bukele’s decision to establish Bitcoin as legal tender was a mistake; 24% answered that it was not very correct; 12% believe that it was correct and only 6.5% considered that it was very successful.

Salvadorans are not only unaware of the Law, but of the cryptocurrency itself and its value.

To the question: How much do you know about Bitcoin ?, 48.2% said something, 46% said nothing and 4.6% said a lot.

The survey: “Salvadorans think about the Bitcoin Law: Do they accept and receive?” It was carried out by the Disruptiva magazine and the Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (ICTI), both units of said university. Photo EDH / Archive

Another question was: “In this week, how much is a Bitcoin worth in its dollar equivalent?” and 71.3% indicated not knowing; 18.2% answered that close to $ 30,000 (which is the real value that the cryptocurrency had in that week); 4.7% said its value is equal to a dollar and 3% said that it was close to $ 100.

A very sensitive issue for the population is their salary or income, so they were asked: Would you be willing to receive your salary or income in Bitcoin? and 64.8% answered that they are not willing; 16.5% are willing; and 18.7% do not know or did not respond.

When consulting the public, which currency do you value for the financial stability of your family economy? 95% said that the dollar, only 1% answered that Bitcoin; 3.2% responded that another currency, and 0.8% said they did not know or did not respond.

In addition, 83.4% indicated that they do not know any family member or friend who has made transactions in cryptocurrencies or Bitcoin; only 16.1% said yes and 0.5% said they did not know or did not respond.

Traders reject Bitcoin

The study also inquired about the opinion of merchants, since the Bitcoin Law obliges this sector to accept cryptocurrencies.

Did you know that once the new Bitcoin law takes effect, on September 9, businesses will be obliged to accept these cryptocurrencies? They were consulted and 61% said they knew, 38% did not know and 9 % answered not knowing or did not answer.

Of the respondents, 280 people were merchants and they were asked if they would be willing to accept payments in Bitcoin, but 67.14% said they would not receive it; 24.29% that would receive it; 3.93 said that they are indifferent and 4.64% that they do not know or did not respond.

“It is important to see at this point how the rejection of Bitcoin is marked,” commented the ICTI director.

Read also: El Salvador’s economy recovers from 2020 thanks to remittances and exports

On June 24 during a national chain, Bukele spoke about the difference between accepting and receiving Bitcoin. To find out if the population is clear about the message, they were asked if they understood the difference. 20% answered that they did not understand; 33.9% assured that they did understand, but 44.7% did not see the chain and 0.6% did not know or did not respond.

In that same chain, Bukele explained how to use the wallet or electronic wallet on his mobile phone and they asked citizens what is their assessment? 24.7% said it is easy to use; the 28.4 stated that it is very complicated; 44.4% assured that they did not see the national network and 2.5% said they did not know or did not respond.

Another important fact that the survey revealed is that merchants consider that the economic situation will worsen with the implementation of the Bitcoin Law, since 43.6% said that the situation could get worse; the 25.6% that will improve the economy; 17% that everything will remain the same and 13.1% said they do not know.

Those favored with the Bitcoin Law

40% of the population assured that the Bitcoin Law favors large entrepreneurs; 14.8% indicated that foreign businessmen; 13.1% to the country in general; 11.2% said that to government finances; 8.5% said they do not know and 6.5% said that Bukele’s family.

32.7% considered that Bukele’s motivation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender was due to personal and / or business interests; 24.7% mentioned that to improve the family economy and generate more jobs; while 18.5% said that to facilitate transactions such as purchases and remittances; 10% to evade economic sanctions and 13.6% said they do not know.

Finally, when consulting the population, how do you feel about this decision to implement Bitcoin as legal tender? 48% said with uncertainty; 29% with fear; 19.8% optimistic and 2.6% do not know.

On June 24, President Bukele announced the Chivo application that will be used to make transactions with dollars and Bitcoins. Photo: Twitter / Press Secretary of the Presidency

For Picardo, these results are only a reflection of a decision that was made without technical debate.

“The mandatory factor is what put the result of this bet in check; Maybe if the law had given a one-year period for adaptation, for progressive implementation, and after that year the law had been reformed, it would have been different, so I think it was a false step and there is a marked rejection, ”explained Picardo.

The analyst added that we must not forget that there is a digital divide and that it complicates the population to become familiar with this type of digital products.

“There is the digital divide, not everyone has internet, not everyone has equipment, not everyone has a bank account, there are many gaps associated with the problem,” he said.

At this point, the survey revealed that 23.5% have no way to connect; 24% stated that they did not have access to the internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Majority of the population rejects Bitcoin and prefers to use the dollar, reveals survey

A survey presented by the UFG revealed that the majority of the population does not know what the value of the cryptocurrency is against the dollar and they do not trust that currency for their transactions.

The Francisco Gavidia University through the Center for Citizen Studies; Disruptive Journalism Science and Technology and the Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation presented the survey “Salvadorans think about the Bitcoin Law: Do they accept and receive?

The survey was conducted from July 1 to 4 of this year with 1,233 effective ballots nationwide and has a 95% confidence level, in view of the entry into force of the Bitcoin Law on September 9.

The population was asked if they would be willing to receive their salary or income in Bitcoin? and 64.8% I am not willing, 16.5% I am willing and 18.7% do not know or did not respond.

SEE ALSO: Michael Peterson, the figure who convinced Bukele to embrace Bitcoin as a currency

They were also asked, How much do you know about Bitcoin, 48.2% said something, 46% said nothing and 4.6% said a lot.

When consulting the population, which currency do you value for the financial stability of your family economy? 95% said the dollar; only 1% said Bitcoin; 3.2% responded that another and 0.8% said they did not know or did not respond.

In addition, 83.4% said that they do not know any family member or friend who has made transactions in cryptocurrencies or Bitcoin, only 16.1% said yes and 0.5% said they did not know or did not respond.

SEE ALSO: Here’s How Strike Would Get Dollars Out of El Salvador Through Bitcoin

The survey gave interesting data on how complicated it will be for Salvadorans to carry out their transactions with the cryptocurrency, since when you consult them this week, how much do you think a Bitcoin is worth in its equivalent in dollars? 71.3% said they do not know; 18.2% responded that about $ 30,000; 4.7% equal to a dollar; 3% about $ 100; 1.2% close to 10,000 and 1.5% do not know or did not respond.

AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

Traders reject Bitcoin
Did you know that once the new Bitcoin law takes effect, on September 9, businesses will be obliged to accept these cryptocurrencies? 61% said they knew, 38% did not know and 9% said they did not know or did not respond.

Of the survey, 280 merchants were asked if they would be willing to accept payments in Bitcoin and 67.14% said that they would not receive it, 24.29% that they would receive it, 3.93 said that they were indifferent and 4.64% that they would not. know or did not answer

On June 24, the President of the Republic, Nayib Bukele, explained the difference between accepting and receiving Bitcoin, the population was asked if they understood the difference? 20% said they did not understand, 33.9% assured that they did understand, but 44.7% did not see the chain, 0.6% did not know or did not respond.

In that same national chain Bukele explained how to use the wallet or electronic wallet on your mobile phone, in this regard, what is your assessment? 24.7% said that it is easy to use, 28.4 said that it is very complicated, 44.4 said that they did not see the national network and 2.5% said they did not know or did not respond.

From an economic point of view, what do you think will be the result of implementing Bitcoin? and 43.6% stated that the situation could get worse; the 25.6% that will improve the economy; 17% that everything will remain the same and 13.1 said they do not know.

They don’t trust Bitcoin

When asking the population if they trust the criteria of President Bukele in this decision to adopt Bitcoin: 52.1% said they trust him, but do not agree with Bitcoin; 30% said they do not trust President Bukele; 15.5% said that they trust him and Bitcoin and 2.4% that they do not know or did not respond.

40% of the population assured that the Bitcoin Law favors large entrepreneurs; 14.8% to foreign businessmen; 13.1% to the country in general; 11.2% said that to government finances; 8.5% said they do not know and 6.5% said that Bukele’s family.

32.7% consider that Bukele’s motivation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender was due to personal and / or business interests; 24.7% to improve the family economy, more jobs; 18.5% to facilitate transactions such as purchases and remittances; 10% to evade economic sanctions and 13.6% do not know

And finally when consulting the population of How do you feel about this decision to implement Bitcoin as legal tender? 48% said with uncertainty; 29% with fear; 19.8 said optimistic and 2.6 does not know.

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Congresswoman Norma Torres: “The Engel list is full of people exposed by credible journalists from the region”

The US congresswoman appreciated the role of journalism in exposing corruption cases in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. “Many (journalists) face regular threats for having the courage to speak up,” he said.

Congresswoman Norma Torres, representative of the 35th District of the state of California, in the United States, published an official statement on Thursday in reference to the so-called Engel list, a document declassified on July 1 by the State Department of the same country, and that links several Central American leaders and officials with acts of corruption.

In the statement, Torres emphasizes that the Engel list is a continuation of the first advance that the same official requested from the State Department in mid-May, and in which a first part of those indicated in the recently published list was known.

You can read: Prosecutor ignores Engel list and assures that criminal actions against previous governments will continue

Likewise, he pointed out that the most recent list validates his efforts within the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives so that the financial assistance granted by the United States government is sent away from “corrupt central governments that actively work against the interests of the policies of United States ”, and which, on the contrary, seeks to be redirected towards civil society organizations in the Northern Triangle.

“This last list is based on my previous work exposing corrupt actors in Central America; once again demonstrates the corrosive impact that impunity and self-negotiation have on all levels of government, ”says the congresswoman, who also adds that“ the inclusion of groups and individuals that use the legal system to attack those who defend the The rule of law, together with the judges of the highest courts, shows to what extent the legal system has been tainted ”in the region.

Some officials and former officials identified in the list of corrupt US officials Photo: EDH / Archive

In addition, Torres recognized the work of the press in the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, by ensuring that “the list is full of people previously exposed by credible journalists in the region, many of whom face regular threats for having the courage to speak ”.

On the other hand, Torres, who is the only congresswoman of Hispanic origin in Congress, stressed that the United States “has an important role to play in support of the rule of law in the face of such rampant corruption and democratic backsliding” in the countries of the Northern Triangle, for which it reiterated that it will continue to focus on “delivering those resources (sent by the US Executive) to civil society and independent organizations that are committed to the rule of law.”

He also affirmed that he will continue to “work with the State and Treasury Department to unmask corruption in the region and hold corrupt and undemocratic actors accountable.”

Also read: If Bukele does not stop the anti-press speech we will soon have journalists murdered in the country, warns APES

The Engel list, published on July 1, points to several officials and former officials from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, for being linked to acts of corruption, violation of human rights and blows to the rule of law.

Among the main ones mentioned, in the case of El Salvador, several officials and former officials from the close circle of President Nayib Bukele, and among whom stand out the chief of staff, Carolina Recinos; the Minister of Labor, Rolando Castro; the former minister of agriculture, Pablo Anliker; the legal secretary of the Presidency, Conan Castro; the director of Penal Centers, Osiris Luna, the former Minister of Security, Rogelio Rivas and the historical leader of the FMLN, José Luis Merino, who has been close to President Nayib Bukele and who, allegedly, financed the president’s proselytizing campaign when it was launched as Presidential candidate.

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Minister of Labor: “For the Government the Engel list is insignificant”

Rolando Castro also reiterated that he “renounces” the US visa, despite the fact that it was suspended when his name was published on the list.

The Minister of Labor, Rolando Castro, once again downplayed the list of corrupt officials published last week by the United States Department of State, and in which he appears along with other officials and former officials of the Nayib Bukele government.

Among the main ones mentioned, in addition to Rolando Castro, are the chief of staff, Carolina Recinos; the former minister of agriculture, Pablo Anliker; the legal secretary of the Presidency, Conan Castro; the director of Penal Centers, Osiris Luna, the former Minister of Security, Rogelio Rivas and the historical leader of the FMLN, José Luis Merino, who has been close to President Nayib Bukele and who, allegedly, financed the president’s proselytizing campaign when it was launched as Presidential candidate.

During the interview in Noticiero Hechos, of Channel 12, Castro asserted that the so-called Engel List is of “little credibility” because it belongs to the “board of world geopolitics”, where, according to him, it has been included by the interests of lobbyists (lobbyists) who have an interest in affecting the Salvadoran Government.

You can read: The Minister of Labor had his American visa canceled by Engel list, but he says he renounces it

He also affirmed that the reasons for which it has been included “are not because he is a corrupt person”, but because he has had problems with two people, such as the former mayor of San Salvador, Ernesto Muyshondt, and the businessman Adolfo Salume, who it has also been pointed out in said list.

Given this, Castro justified himself by saying that it cannot be considered corrupt because the preceding State portfolio has no money “not even to pay for electricity,” and since it is the “poorest in the State” ministry, it could not misappropriate the funds of the State. same.

However, the State Department has singled him out for obstructing corruption investigations and undermining democracy in order to harm political rivals, according to the document published last Thursday.

Even so, he reiterated that “due to the damage to his dignity”, he remained in his decision to “renounce” the US visa, despite the fact that that visa had already been suspended immediately after his name was published in the Engel list.

“For the rest of my life I will not apply for the visa again,” added the minister, who also pointed out that in the six years that this document was in force, he only visited US lands “7 or 8 times; one of them with my family ”.

“I don’t need a visa because I have a good job; I am the minister of President Nayib Bukele ”, affirmed Rolando Castro. Photo EDH / Archive

Another point that he pointed out to discredit the list sent by the State Department to the US Congress is that the investigation period to build it is not known and that, in addition, the government of Joe Biden was informed with the Salvadoran media , for which he accused newspapers such as El Faro, Factum and Gato Encerrado of being responsible for his name appearing in the document declassified on July 1.

“We have analyzed it as a government and that list (Engel List) is insignificant for us,” he asserted, and reiterated that for the Nayib Bukele administration “it has no credibility,” because names such as former presidents Antonio Saca do not appear. Mauricio Funes or Alfredo Cristiani, despite the fact that on Friday, one day after the publication of the list, the business manager of the US embassy, ​​Jean Manes, specified that the list “was not the definitive one” and, furthermore, He clarified that those indicated correspond to current corrupt officials to provide an immediate solution to this problem.

Also read: Minister of Labor says that Engel list “is filthy”

Also, Castro assured that “no one expected him to appear on the list” so he asserted that having included him “due to internal and external influences” is an insult “to the dignity of a person who should never have been there (on the list)” .

In addition, he affirmed that, given the possibility that the United States freezes the assets in the United States of those indicated in the list, he does not have bank accounts in any country in the world because he is a “simple salaryman who survives on his salary as a minister. “And added that he will send a letter to the State Department to request clarification of the situation regarding the accusations.

About the proposal to increase the minimum wage

Regarding the proposal to increase the current minimum wage by 20%, Castro contradicted what was said yesterday by the Minister of Finance, Alejandro Zelaya, who stated that the Government “is still looking for where to take the $ 100 million” of the trust that will work for subsidize micro and small businesses and that they can absorb said increase.

“I do not know which source of the Treasury said that,” said Castro, while adding that those funds “are already clear and defined” from where they will be taken, despite the fact that Zelaya said yesterday that he did not know from which item it would be taken and that it was only clear that it would be from the General Budget of the Nation.

It may interest you: Without a technical study, the Council approves an increase of 20% to the minimum wage

In addition, he affirmed that today the necessary documents will be sent to the Treasury so that the trust law can be formulated to finance said increase. “The Treasury has already defined the budget items,” he added.

He also affirmed that the proposal to increase the minimum wage has been working for two years when the National Minimum Wage Council (CNS) was formed, but that it was due to the pandemic that could no longer be consolidated.

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El Salvador at risk of FATF sanctions for adopting Bitcoin

Steve Hanke leads a study at Johns Hopkins University, in the United States, on the Bitcoin Law adopted by Bukele. They consider that it would be difficult for El Salvador to comply with 27 points of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Renowned American economist Steve Hanke keeps his gaze on the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender by the government of Nayib Bukele. Together with two students from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, he has carried out a study on the risks that El Salvador may incur with this measure and they warn of possible international sanctions.

The academics focus especially on the regulations established by the International Financial Action Group (FATF), to which El Salvador and more than 200 countries are integrated, since they consider that, if the Bitcoin Law is applied on September 7, El Salvador would be in serious difficulty to comply with these rules imposed by the FATF and may even fall on the gray or black list prepared by that same international body.

Also read: Michael Peterson, the figure who convinced Bukele to adopt Bitcoin as a currency

The FATF collects and shares information with the attached countries that leads them to prevent acts of corruption and terrorist financing.

In that sense, Steve Hanke, the founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health and the Study of Business Enterprise, together with economics students from that same university, Nicholas Hanlon and Parth Thakkar, have published a study titled “El Salvador’s Bitcoin law is destined to get caught in the FATF regulatory website”, by which they pose 27 situations that the FATF establishes in order not to fall into risk when it is done.

“We have chosen 27 behaviors from the FATF 58 that promise to be difficult, if not impossible, for banks, merchants and their customers to comply with. El Salvador and its dollarized exchange regime have been as clean as a hound’s tooth. “

Study on Bitcoin law and the FATF, Universidad Johns Hopkins

Among those scenarios drawn by the FATF and taken up by the authors, is the lack of information on user profiles and the high amounts of money that can be transferred without further regulation. They even mention that the use of “mules” (drug transporters) can be promoted or that there are potential people who are victims of fraud.

Another risk is that transfers can be made from untrustworthy and even suspicious IP addresses. This and other scenarios will be seen by El Salvador and it will be difficult to control them, they say.

In principle, they consider that, in practice, this is not a “legal tender” law but one of “forced course” that will restrict the freedom of choice of Salvadorans in the use of virtual currency, which according to local surveys already facing resistance from merchants.

Continue reading: Banks will have less margin to lend money to the Government

In addition to the FATF, the study highlights that “nobody knows the exact modalities that will be used to implement the Bitcoin Law” and also refers to another risk: the inclusion in the Engel List of seven people (officials and Bukele’s circle) as allegedly corrupt or human rights violators.

“It is clear that the administration of President Bukele has been deeply involved in corruption, obstruction and actions that undermine democratic processes and institutions,” they say.

Hanke insists in this study that the law promoted by Bukele is based on “false premises” such as increasing freedom and reducing remittance transfer fees.

As part of the analysis, economists note that since El Salvador adopted the US dollar, El Salvador’s average annual inflation rate of 2.03% has been the lowest in Latin America; 25-year mortgages have remained stable at a variable interest rate of 7%, among others.

It also highlights that currently the average cost of transferring remittances is 2.85%, much lower than what it means to receive bitcoin and exchange it for dollars.

Contrary to these figures, President Bukele has defended his bitcoin project and has said that remittance transfers will not be paid, and that the law does not require the use of that currency, although the law does say so.

After insisting that the bitcoin law is unnecessary because the country has maintained stability with the dollar and “its exchange regime has been as clean as the teeth of a hound,” the authors specify that once the law is applied, both banks, how traders and their customers will come into conflict with the FATF regulators and get caught up in that regulatory web.

“Importantly, there will be huge unintended negative consequences associated with the implementation of the Bitcoin Law. Salvadoran banks, financial institutions, companies and perhaps the government itself will be visited. They will likely receive a red flag from the FATF that will likely result in sanctions, ”the study notes.

The FATF, as the world’s leading watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing activities, has produced and regularly updates two documents: the Recommendations Guide and the Red Flag Indicators Report for Virtual Assets.

The Recommendations Guide contemplates standards that the countries should use to detect, punish and prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, among others; while the Red Flag Indicators Report describes suspicious behaviors related to virtual assets that violate the Guide.

The study highlights that non-compliance with the FATF Guide leads nations to fall on the FATF list of “Jurisdictions under greater supervision” or Gray List, and even, if they do not cooperate, fall under the supervision of the FATF; and if they are significantly exposed to money laundering or terrorist financing, they can be placed on the list of “High-risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action” or Black List. The latter can result in account seizures and fines, penalties, business restrictions, and criminal charges for the financial parties involved.

What sanctions apply?

When a country is placed on the black list, the FATF issues a call to action urging the more than 200 affiliated nations to apply measures to it, but also those that fall on the gray list can be sanctioned by the attached countries.

Around 17 nations in the Americas and the Caribbean have received the FATF flag: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas; Barbados, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Only Venezuela registers sanctions from the United States.

As they state, many FATF guidelines have to do with customer due diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC), in order to track where the money is coming from, where it is going and why the transaction.

“These regulations ensure that individuals who conduct virtual asset transactions (VA) on Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) have credible status and are conducting the transaction with a logical business purpose.

Hanke and the other two authors cite in their report the 27 possible behaviors that the FATF establishes worthy of a risk flag, which will likely occur with the establishment of Bitcoin in the country.

One of the aspects that stand out is that the following could be difficult or impossible for banks, merchants and clients to comply with virtual currency: receive funds or send funds to virtual active service operators that do not know their client, for what they consider that the processes are demonstrably weak or nonexistent.

Added to this is the risk of when customer information is incomplete or insufficient, or that a customer rejects requests for “meet your customer” documents or inquiries about the origin of funds. In the same way that the sender or recipient does not have knowledge or provides inaccurate information about the transaction, the origin of the funds or the relationship with the counterparty.

Another scenario that they warn is that in this world of virtual currency, several high-value transactions can be carried out in a short series of times, for example, within 24 hours; in a staggered and regular pattern, with no further transactions recorded over a long period afterward, which is particularly common in ransomware-related cases; or to a newly created or to a previously inactive account.

Ten cases in which the country could fall into risk

These are ten of 27 possible scenarios that Robert Hanke and his colleagues believe El Salvador might not comply with the FATF.

THE CUSTOMERS ‘SITES OF ORIGIN AND THE LACK OF REGULATIONS

“Immediately transfer virtual assets to multiple providers, especially those registered or operating in another jurisdiction where there is no relationship with the place where the client lives or conducts business, or there is no or weak regulation against money laundering or anti-money laundering. terrorism”.

NOT HAVE THE EXACT INFORMATION OF THE SENDER OR RECEIVER

“The sender / recipient has no knowledge or provides inaccurate information about the transaction, the
origin of the funds or the relationship with the counterparty “

THE PANORAMA ONLY PAINTS AN ADVANTAGE AND IS SHORT TERM

“A new user tries to exchange all the balance of the VA, or withdraws the VA and tries to send the entire balance off the platform.”

CLIENT WHOSE PROFILE DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE AMOUNT TRANSFERRED

Make a large initial deposit to open a new relationship with a currency provider, but the financed amount is incompatible with the customer’s profile.

SEND FUNDS TO UNKNOWN

“Receive funds or send funds to virtual currency providers but they do not know their client; that makes the processes demonstrably weak or non-existent “

THE CUSTOMER DOES NOT GIVE THE ORIGIN OF THE MONEY

Information about “know your client” is incomplete or insufficient, or a client rejects requests made to him for documents or inquiries about the origin of the funds he is operating.

SUCCESSIVE AND HIGH TRANSACTIONS IN A SHORT TIME

When they carry out several large-value transactions in a short succession, for example, within a 24-hour period; in a staggered and regular pattern, with no further transactions recorded over a long period afterward, which is particularly common in ransomware-related cases; or to a newly created or to a previously inactive account.

SUSPECT THAT PEOPLE ARE BEING USED FOR ILLICIT TRAFFICKING

A client significantly older than the average age of the platform users opens an account and participates in a large number of transactions, which suggests his potential role as a virtual money “mule” (person who carries) or may be in front of a scenario of a victim of financial exploitation of the elderly.

INADEQUATE USE OF ATMs TO MAKE TRANSACTIONS

The use of ATMs or virtual asset kiosks, despite higher transaction fees and including those used by “mules” or victims of scams, or in high-risk locations where occurrences of criminal activity increased.

THE PANORAMA ONLY PAINTS AN ADVANTAGE AND IS SHORT TERM

Perform a virtual currency-fiat exchange with a potential loss (for example, when the asset value is fluctuating, or regardless of abnormally high fees compared to industry standards, and especially when transactions do not have a commercial explanation logic.

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