I don't speak for every Salvadoran. Just, you know, the ~85 to 90% who approve of Nayib and get offended when foreigners call an elected president a "dictator."
I saw that Vitalik just joined Alex Gladstein and others in "calling out" Bitcoiners for their support of the "dictator/autocrat of El Salvador" Nayib Bukele. In doing so, both of them are repeating vast swaths of Western media that—interestingly enough—never paid attention to El Salvador before 2021, ignored El Salvador's massive corruption problems, and, by the way, were content to use the country's people as pawns in the fake and ridiculous caravans a few years ago.
The fact that Nayib Bukele is very popular in El Salvador is ignored by everyone. After all, "Hitler was popular too right?" "Salvadorans are just poor, uneducated, brown, or brainwashed," right?
Nope. If you've been guilt-tripped about supporting El Salvador because of Nayib, you my friend are getting a healthy dose of gaslighting.
There's an implicit condescension involved in when foreigners just gloss over what Salvadorans actually think. It is assumed "80 to 90% of Salvadorans" support him because... man, I don't know, those poor dears must be brainwashed? Poor dears, they must be getting swayed by a dictator's charisma?
And then they use Nayib's supposed "Dictatorness" to beat the "Bitcoin Maxis" over the head.
Since most people don't know anything about El Salvador, never gave it much thought before 2021, it's easy I suppose to just listen to the mainstream (mainstream is a euphemism for well-funded) opinion that El Salvador's democratically elected, widely supported president is a dictator.
They then shame foreign Bitcoiners for "supporting a dictator" and use this against you.
So, since I'm actually a native Salvadoran, allow me to point out some things of interest:
Since the war ended in 1992, El Salvador has had 4 previous "democratic" (lol) presidents who actively stole from the country. One of them had to flee prosecution for that theft and is in exile right now. Another is in jail right now for stealing. Another (Flores) was also charged and died under house arrest — there's a popular conspiracy theory among Salvadorans that Flores faked his own death to avoid prosecution, but let's just grant that he's dead.
The president before Bukele was also just charged with... stealing money.
That means, without exception, every presidential administration in El Salvador before Bukele since the 1990s, has gone up on corruption charges.
Up until Bukele's administration, El Salvador had the highest murder rate in the world.
That's because El Salvador's gangs were on habitual killing sprees for years, unchecked, and without anyone particularly caring. Everyone knows someone who was murdered. A man I knew was attacked and murdered at my own doorstep.
In addition to murders, the gangs also blackmailed and extorted Salvadorans with complete impunity. A man I work with was forced to pay hundreds in "rent" (blackmail) to the gangs in his neighborhood. These are already poor people. There was no legal recourse, and those who didn't pay, were simply killed.
"In August, prosecutors there showed that El Salvador's two main political parties had colluded with MS-13 and other gangs, paying them more than $300,000 for help winning the country's 2014 presidential election. Party officials allegedly utilized MS-13 to mobilize some voters and suppress others. Still, the attorney general's office has not indicted party leaders."
The gangs were likewise used to sway elections and intimidate voters — yay democracy.
El Salvador also has an entrenched oligarchy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Families). Not saying "all those rich people are evil" (not the case), but many of them also colluded with the gangs— wealthy neighborhoods were not targeted by gangs, and they're a convenient way to keep the plebs (called campesinos in El Sal) scared and controlled.
These people ^^^ also greatly control and influence the media, and hate Bukele with the fire of a thousand suns. Really, it's stupid to just blindly accept their talking points without looking deeper into things. The people who parrot them are acting like NPC drones.
El Salvador's judiciary, even up to the Supreme Court, was likewise corrupted by the factors I just stated.
El Salvador's police had massive corruption problems for the factors I just stated.
The reason nothing was done about these problems between 1992 and 2019 is because it benefitted no one in power to resolve problems that were advantageous to them. Government corruption, gangs murders, repression against the public, etc, are not irresolvable problems—they just need elbow grease.
The attitudes towards El Salvador, both among the powerful within El Salvador and outside El Salvador, were never conducive toward fixing these problems. There's always a certain fatalism that creeps in, as though things are just "meant" to be this way—that benefits the people who benefit from things being this way.
El Salvador was thought of as "just a shit country"; its problems were caused by "Oh gosh, what a tragedy, if only someone could do something"; it was of course "No wonder people to the USA seeking a better life"; people murdered are "just campesinos/peasants" or poor people in general. And everyone was a victim of (a) Learned helplessness and fatalism among many Salvadoran people themselves, (b) Apathy among more powerful Salvadorans, (c) Active exploitation by other powerful Salvadorans—and, let's be honest, outside influence as well.
When Nayib took office (democratically — he is not our dictator, please stop referring to him as such), he made security his first priority because, guess what, nothing can be accomplished while you're being murdered. He stopped arranging "treaties" with the gangs and sent the police to actually arrest the murderers, as should have been done 20 years previously.
Here's where Nayib fucked up though. Since the police were underequipped for that task, not a few of them died. El Salvador's Assembly, who hates Bukele, refused to fund better body armor for them to wear when he asked for it. To emphasize the need for better body armor, Nayib invited police to the Assembly to emphasize the importance of more funding for their body armor..... aaaand got wrecked by the optics of armed police in the Assembly. The images were immediately used by domestic and international press to make it look like he was somehow trying to take over the Assembly with military force. And he's had the slur "dictator" ever since.
Nayib is a young politician, didn't think about the optics, and got played there. Darn.
But so what? This is a novel concept for some, but it does not actually matter what the television thinks. Salvadoran people understand the reality of what took place there, and they know the media in El Salvador is fake and dumb. There's enough experience with media propaganda to understand that optics are not reality.
(And honestly, the fact that Nayib maintains upwards of 90% approval shows that, if anything, El Salvador has far less of an NPC problem than the United States does)
The narrative built up around El Salvador is used against Bitcoiners. There's no reason for that. When foreigners support Nayib, they're sharing the same opinion as myself and the vast majority of actual Salvadoran people.
And it's OK if you never heard of El Salvador before Bitcoin became legal tender. Most Salvadorans had no idea what the fuck Bitcoin was in 2021. A majority distrust it right now because, no shit, Nayib bought in right before the bear market lol. And Chivo Wallet sucks. There's a lot of work to educate everyone about Bitcoin, not just Salvadorans—but El Salvador is building and has low time preference.
Salvadorans consciously elected someone outside of the two corrupt political parties to (a) Stop appeasing the murderous gangs, (b) Stop allowing political corruption to go unchecked. Nobody called El Salvador's past presidents dictators, even though objectively, by serving themselves, looting the nation, appeasing its enemies, failing to raise a finger to protect its people... what were they? "Virtuous democratic presidents?"
I mean, honestly. If you think that way, we don't have anything to talk about. We're not on the same team. Get a clue because you have the same idiotic mentality that caused the exploitation of the so-called "Third World" for the entire last century.
El Salvador has real systemic problems. Not fake systemic problems you only hear about on TV. El Salvador needs real system reform, led by the actual Salvadoran people themselves who've, frankly, been repeatedly victimized by interests both foreign and domestic. Nayib isn't El Salvador's savior, nor is he treated like one, but he has support because he and regular Salvadoran people want the same things: Sovereignty and prosperity.
And, yes, we do expect Nayib to leave office when his term is over. And no, for obvious reasons, most of us are fine with him having two terms, as in the U.S. There's tons of work to do, and the last thing we want is some asstard from one of the 2 older parties coming in to undo the reforms that need to happen.
It's all quite simple really.
P.S. Again, I don't speak for every Salvadoran—just the vast freaking majority who recognize that undeveloped nations aren't undeveloped because of an act of God, but because people either don't put in the work to develop them... or are prevented from doing so.
P.P.S. And yes, I started writing this initially to vent after seeing Vitalik talking about things he doesn't know about, and turned it into a proper post in the process. The habit of shaming Bitcoiners for supporting Nayib, or Bitcoiners being guilt-tripped over it, is something I've been observing in this space for a long time and have been wanting to address.