El Salvador's Bukele tells bitcoin-wary U.S. senators to stay out of internal affairs

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El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele speaks with restaurant employees during a tour after a ceremony to inaugurate the expansion of the San Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez International Airport, in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

MEXICO CITY, Feb 16 (Reuters) - President Nayib Bukele on Wednesday asked U.S. senators to stay out of El Salvador's "internal affairs" after they called for an investigation into the economic risks the United States faces due to the Central American country's adoption of bitcoin as legal tender.

Senators Jim Risch, Bill Cassidy and Bob Mendez asked the State Department to submit a report on the implementation of bitcoin in El Salvador with the purpose of assessing the risks it poses to the U.S. economy.

"Ok boomers… You have 0 jurisdiction on a sovereign and independent nation," Bukele, 40, said in a tweet, referring to the older generation of "baby boomers". "We are not your colony, your back yard or your front yard. Stay out of our internal affairs. Don’t try to control something you can’t control."

El Salvador was the first country in the world to adopt cryptocurrency for official use, in parallel to the U.S. dollar, a decision that has drawn it harsh criticism from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The U.S. senators also expressed fear over the fact that adopting bitcoin could weaken the U.S. government's sanctions policy and increase the activity of criminal organizations.

"This new policy has the potential to weaken U.S. sanctions policy, empowering malign actors like China and organized criminal organizations. Our bipartisan legislation seeks greater clarity on El Salvador’s policy," said the senators in a statement.

The Salvadoran government, which has acquired some 1,801 bitcoins since September, has been questioned by economists and the opposition for its refusal to be accountable in the process of buying and managing the funds. read more

Diplomatic relations between El Salvador and the United States have deteriorated after the White House denounced publicly cases of corruption in Bukele's government and an escalation of measures to accumulate power.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Valentine Hilaire Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Lincoln Feast.

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