Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele resigned Wednesday from participating in a major bitcoin conference this week in Miami, in the southeastern United States, citing “unforeseen circumstances” in his country, according to a letter shared by the event’s organizers.
“I have taken the difficult decision to cancel my participation in the conference, due to unforeseen circumstances in my country that require my full-time presence as president of the nation,” Bukele assured in the missive written in English.
The president, who did not elaborate on the reasons for his absence, has imposed a state of emergency in El Salvador to deal with a wave of gang violence.
In 10 days, Salvadoran authorities arrested some 6,000 gang members, according to the latest official balance sheet, following 87 homicides from March 25-27 in the Central American country.
And the ruling party-dominated Congress approved swift legal reforms to toughen punishment against gang members and media outlets that disseminate gang messages.
Bukele was one of the main attractions at the Bitcoin 2022 conference, which is attracting thousands of people to Miami Beach these days, including cryptocurrency market leaders and companies in the sector.
El Salvador became, on September 7, 2021, the first country in the world to officially use bitcoin, legalizing its use in all transactions on par with the U.S. dollar, the official currency for two decades.
In his letter, Bukele described the conference as “one of the greatest celebrations of the power of freedom, decentralization and human ingenuity in its fight against ignorance, centralization and dogma.”
The Salvadoran decision to adopt bitcoin as a legal currency caused controversy abroad. Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the country to annul this measure, considering that the use of this cryptocurrency entails “great associated risks”.