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Tucker Carlson interviews Nayib Bukele. Did they talk crypto?

source-logo  crypto.news 11 June 2024 14:13, UTC

Generally speaking, Tucker Carlson’s interviews tend to generate more light than heat — with guests who are carefully chosen because they align to his world view.

Tucker Carlson has established himself as one of the world’s most divisive right-wing pundits.

Since abruptly leaving Fox News, he’s performed cozy interviews with some of the world’s biggest autocrats — Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orban among them.

Another now joins the list: El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele.

Bukele has won plaudits in crypto circles after his Central American nation became the first to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021. But it’s been a pretty bumpy ride.

According to the University of Central America’s Public Opinion Institute, just 12% of Salvadorans actually transacted in BTC last year. The adoption rate for remittances, where foreign workers send funds home to their loved ones, is even lower at 1%.

And though Bukele made a huge splash about creating “Bitcoin City” at the base of a volcano, as the 2021 bull market hit its dizzying peak, the crypto-inspired metropolis hasn’t materialized.

The one bright spot of the president’s audacious bet? El Salvador’s stockpile of BTC has skyrocketed in value after spending many months in the red. According to NayibTracker.com, the country now owns 5,777 BTC worth $379.9 million, with paper profits of $69 million.

Tucker Carlson interviews Nayib Bukele. Did they talk crypto? - 1
Source: NayibTracker.com
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Bitcoiners were enthralled in the early days of Bukele’s experiment when he would announce huge new BTC buys in a Michael Saylor-esque fashion.

But those announcements started to dry up around July 2022 after the markets tanked, with BTC having suffered a stomach-churning drop from $69,000 to $20,000 in just nine months.

November of that year marked the start of a more subtle, less showy crypto strategy: instead, the president declared that El Salvador would now start buying one Bitcoin every day.

Records from the wallet’s address show that Bukele has persevered with this strategy — and the balance has incrementally grown by 1 BTC on a daily basis right up until now.

Source: mempool.space

But for Bukele fans hoping for a grand Bitcoin update in his Tucker Carlson interview, they were to be left bitterly disappointed. Why? Because the cryptocurrency wasn’t even mentioned once.

Instead — the main themes of the discussion had names like “Bukele’s mission to save El Salvador”, “Bukele’s three-point economic plan” and “Is Western civilization dying?”

Generally speaking, Carlson’s interviews tend to generate more light than heat — with guests who are carefully chosen because they align to his world view.

Bukele was given a platform to reiterate claims from Salvadoran security officials that the homicide rate has plunged to 2.4 per 100,000 people — much lower than the U.S.

But independent observers have questioned these figures and claim this data is “not truthful” because violent deaths across the nation are “highly underreported.”

A state of emergency was also imposed by Bukele to tackle gangs and reduce crime on the streets, a policy that has been rated highly among the population.

However, there are allegations that many of the 76,000 arrests were made so with little evidence — and in a detailed report, Amnesty International documented “the systematic use of torture and other abuse against prisoners.” This wasn’t mentioned in the interview.

Carlson also approvingly described Bukele as “literally the most popular elected leader in the world,” but this doesn’t tell the entire story either.

El Salvador’s constitution had long declared that presidents can only serve one consecutive term. But judges in the country’s top court were sacked, with newly appointed justices then deciding that Bukele could run again. A landslide victory later followed, and the president has already hinted a third term may be on the horizon.

Overall, this was an hour-long interview that was light on nuance and hard questions and extremely heavy on compliments for Bukele’s leadership. But there’s a much bigger picture here, as opposition politicians and everyday Salvadorans would tell you.

Equally, in the world of crypto, it can be very easy to be full of praise for Bukele — who has openly described himself as “the world’s coolest dictator” — because of his passion for Bitcoin.

But this is one small element of what defines Bukele and his leadership of a country where 27% of the population is in poverty.

As a Bitcoiner would say to someone worried about a sudden drop in price, it’s important to zoom out.

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