On Friday (October 28), Milena Mayorga, Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States, spoke about her country’s experiment with the Bitcoin Standard at the Plan B Forum in Lugano, Switzerland.
Mayorga was named — by President Nayib Bukele — Ambassador of El Salvador to the U.S. on 23 September 2020, and she began her function as ambassador on 1 December 2020. Before becoming an ambassador, she served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador from 2018 to 2020.
As you may know, on 5 June 2021, Zap Solutions (a Bitcoin payments startup that uses the Lightning Network) Founder and CEO Jack Mallers announced at Miami’s Bitcoin 2021 conference that El Salvador’s government wanted to pass legislation to make Bitcoin legal tender (alongside the U.S. dollar).
During his talk, an emotional Mallers presented a recorded video message from President Bukele and read out a small passage from the proposed bill. Mallers went on to say that his firm would be opening an innovations centre in El Salvador with the help of Blockstream.
On 9 June 2021, this proposed bill got passed by the Legislative Assembly (with 62 out 84 voting in favor of it).
Then, on 25 June 2021, Reuters published a report that said El Salvador President Nayib Bukele had announced during a national address on 24 June 2021 that “Bitcoin Law” would become effective on 7 September 2021.
On 6 September 2021, President Bukele announced that his country had bought its first 200 bitcoins and they planned to buy “a lot more”.
Since September 2021, El Salvador has made 11 purchases of Bitcoin, with the country estimated to have bought a total of 2,381 bitcoins. The last $BTC purchase took place on 30 June 2022, when El Salvador bought 80 coins at an average price of $19,000.
On 1 October 2022, Bitcoin Magazine published an op-ed piece written by President Bukele, in which he talked about those people who are criticizing El Salvador for betting on Bitcoin and said that despite all their tales of doom and gloom, his country is doing quite well, and that if “If El Salvador succeeds, many countries will follow.”
“… the most vocal detractors, the ones who are afraid and pressuring us to reverse our decision, are the world’s powerful elites and the people who work for or benefit from them…
“Just think about the hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about how El Salvador’s economy was supposedly destroyed because of its “bitcoin gamble”, about how we are inevitably heading to default, that our economy has collapsed, and that our government is bankrupt… Most of you have surely seen this, right? They’re all over. Every financial publication, every major news organization, every newspaper in the world, all the credit rating agencies, and all the international financial organizations are saying the same thing, as if they were in a choir…
“Well, you just need to read their articles and listen to their “experts” saying that all of this happened after El Salvador lost around $50 million because of bitcoin’s plummeting price on exchanges. Since we are not selling any bitcoin, this statement is obviously false… Yes, El Salvador is a relatively poor country, but in 2021 alone, we produced $28 billion in products and services. Pushing the idea that a $50 million loss — less than 0.2% of our GDP — would destroy or even put our country’s economy in trouble is far more than stupid; it is revealing…
“In 2021, our GDP rose 10.3%, income from tourism rose 52%, employment went up 7%, new businesses up 12%, exports up 17%, energy generation up 19%, energy exports went up 3,291%, and internal revenue went up 37%, all without raising any taxes. And this year, the crime and murder rate have gone down 95%…
“If El Salvador succeeds, many countries will follow. If El Salvador somehow fails, which we refuse to, no countries will follow.“
So, why was Ambassador Mayorga speaking at a Bitcoin conference in Lugano, Switzerland earlier today?
Lugano is “a city and municipality in Switzerland, part of the Lugano District in the canton of Ticino.” It is “the largest city of both Ticino and the Italian-speaking southern Switzerland.” Lugano has a population of around 62,000, and it is the ninth largest city in Switzerland.
On 3 March 2022, CoinDesk reported that “aiming to become Europe’s Bitcoin capital, Lugano, Switzerland, has formed a partnership with stablecoin issuer Tether to establish bitcoin, Tether and Lugano’s own LVGA Points token as essentially legal tender in the city.”
What Lugano seems to want to do is similar to what El Salvador is trying to achieve, i.e. having all local businesses routinely accept crypto as a means of payment, but not as far making Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency legal tender (since that is a decision that can only be taken at the federal level and therefore highly unlikely in the near to medium term future).
On 3 October 2022, Bitcoin Magazine sent out a tweet with an embedded video that showed how easy it was to pay at McDonald’s in Lugano with either Bitcoin or Tether.
On 4 October 2022, the Tether CTO tweeted about the Plan B Forum event in Lugano:
Ambassador Mayorga was in Lugano to speak as part of a panel (“Nation-State Bitcoin Adoption”) at the Plan B Forum event:
According to crypto influencer Stacy Herbert, who is the co-host of YouTube series “MAX & STACY REPORT” (formerly known as “Orange Pill”), Mayorga had this to say about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which is something that several countries are currently looking at and experimenting with:
According to a report by CoinDesk, “the country of El Salvador and the Swiss city of Lugano have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at boosting bitcoin adoption in their own regions as well as neighboring states and countries.” The report also mentioned that Ambassador Mayorga “also announced her country’s opening of a ‘bitcoin office’ in Lugano staffed with a new Honorary Consul to proselytize for bitcoin in the city, Italy and Europe.”
Apparently, Ambassador Mayorga also said:
“Before, El Salvador was known for our gangs… Right now, you are visiting El Salvador because of our volcanoes, our surfing, our Bitcoin beach. It’s been really positive for El Salvador… We need you as partners. If El Salvador succeeds, we’ll prove to the world that it’s possible.“