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Showing posts from October, 2021

News summary

A sampling of some of the news out of El Salvador: Protests .  Protesters returned to the streets in large numbers again on Sunday, October 17, to protest policies of the Bukele government.   The protests were somewhat smaller than the September 15 protests.   One reason for the smaller size may have been the police and military checkpoints which went up on the major routes into San Salvador early Sunday morning, stopping all the buses.    For his part, Bukele tweeted 41 times during the day trying to suggest that the protest marches were a "failure" or that people were brought to the march without knowing what they were protesting. Journalist Roberto Valencia, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, asked the important question "what now?"   The protests are loosely organized with no real leader and do not seem yet to lead to the creation of a political movement which might have strength at the polls in 2024. COVID-19 .  The COVID pandemic continues to clai

Bitcoin and El Salvador's electric power generation

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Just after Nayib Bukele announced that El Salvador would be the first country in the world to make Bitcoin legal tender, he also made headlines by suggesting there was "volcano energy" to attract Bitcoin miners to come to the country. In light of the very energy-intensive nature of Bitcoin mining, it makes sense to understand the overall state of electric power generation in El Salvador.   Global bitcoin-mining currently consumes more electricity than the country of Argentina . Official data on electricity generation and use in El Salvador is maintained by Unidad de Transacciones S.A de C.V. which administers the transmission and market for electricity. As shown in the chart below, the four principal sources of electric power in El Salvador currently are hydropower, fossil fuels (primarily bunker diesel power generation), geothermal, and imports (primarily from Guatemala). Renewable sources such as solar, biomass, and wind made up a small but growing 9% of total electri

Nayib Bukele's shadow cabinet of Venezuelan advisers

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A person who only casually follows news and politics in El Salvador could wonder why some marchers in recent protests carried signs denouncing Venezuelans' role in Bukele government policies.  Alongside banners decrying the authoritarian rule of Bukele or rejecting the new Bitcoin law in the country,  you might also see a denunciation of “Venezuelan interference.”      In fact, a series of reports in El Faro and other media outlets have identified a group of more than two dozen Venezuelan consultants to the Salvadoran government, several of whom act as a kind of shadow cabinet in the administration of president Nayib Bukele.   According to El Faro , the pyramid of power in El Salvador has Nayib Bukele at the top with his three brothers as his closest advisors, followed by the group of Venezuelans, who then direct the various actual cabinet ministers.   The current leader of the Venezuelan shadow cabinet has been identified as Sara Hanna Georges.   She was trained as a dentist i