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‘Boots On The Ground’ In The World’s Bitcoin Paradise

[Editor’s note: This letter was written by Schiff Sovereign’s CEO, Viktorija Simulynaite, who is on the ground in El Salvador.]

The first thing my driver said to me after I got off the plane in El Salvador was, “Welcome to my country. It’s very safe here now.”

I chuckled to myself because this seemed like such an odd greeting. But the more time I spent mingling with locals in El Salvador, the more it made sense.

The transformation that has taken place in the country over the past five years cannot be overstated.

Five years ago El Salvador had one of the highest murder rates in the world. It was basically a war zone. Gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 were far more powerful than the government, and they enforced their own laws in their respective territories, sort of like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The country’s young president, Nayib Bukele, put an end to all that when he was elected in 2019.

Bukele invoked emergency powers and arrested more than 100,000 suspected gang members, then shipped them off to a special prison far away from the rest of society. In a country of 6.3 million, that amounts to over 1.5% of the entire population that’s now locked up.

It was a controversial move to say the least… and I wonder about innocent people who may have been wrongfully imprisoned.

But El Salvadorans seem quite happy with the results; today their country boasts a lower homicide rate than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere aside from Canada.

Simultaneously, El Salvador also put itself on the map by being one of the first countries in the world to get behind crypto; they even made Bitcoin legal tender and passed a number of pro-crypto tax incentives.

Those are pretty much the two things that El Salvador is known for these days– putting tens of thousands of criminals in jail, and Bitcoin.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the country has so much more going for it.

This was a place that was scraping the bottom of the barrel just a few years ago. Even aside from the crime problem, the economy was in the dumps. Corruption and bureaucracy ruled the day, and debts were rising.

In just a few short years, however, El Salvador has managed to turn itself around, and the economy has taken off.

It’s not an accident. The government has slashed bureaucracy and established a number of incentives to bring in foreign capital and businesses.

One is the recently passed International Services Law, which offers significant tax incentives to service-based businesses, similar to Puerto Rico’s famous Act 60.

El Salvador’s law, though, is perhaps even more generous than Puerto Rico’s because it includes exemption for import duties, income taxes, municipal taxes, and more.

Service industries like call centers, data centers, software development, and other back-office services are starting to be growing industries in El Salvador, and I met a number of foreign entrepreneurs who are starting businesses in the capital.

Foreign investment is flowing in, and you can see construction projects everywhere– the capital city is quickly becoming sleek and modern, and it completely defied my expectations. Even the restaurant scene is really great.

More importantly, there’s an optimism in El Salvador– one that I haven’t seen in Europe and North America for a long time. People feel like the worst days are over and the future will continue to be much brighter.

Now, all that said, I’m not trying to suggest that El Salvador is some perfect paradise or that anyone should move their business there. I’m really writing about it as a sort of case study.

We talk a lot about how governments and politicians and “inspired idiots” wreck their economies.

They rack up massive debts and engineer painful inflation and higher energy prices… and generally make things worse with their every move.

But it’s fair to point out that sometimes governments do smart things. And El Salvador is a great example.

They knew they had to figure out how to turn their economy around. And rather than go down a destructive rabbit hole of wage and price controls, which are standard approaches for bankrupt nations, El Salvador’s government got out of the way and is allowing the free market to blossom.

The one thing they have done very deliberately is market themselves.

Advanced western countries don’t do this.

Joe Biden doesn’t travel the world pushing foreign nations to invest in America. Rather, he takes America’s standing for granted and simply assumes that everyone wants to invest there.

El Salvador is a tiny country plagued by a bad reputation for its past challenges.

But rather than let that reputation fester, its leaders are hustling to promote their country all over the world with a clear message: El Salvador is open for business.

It’s fascinating to watch such a positive transformation unfold for an entire nation in real time– and to see politicians deliberately do the right things to foster economic growth.

Given how many Western countries are rapidly deteriorating from their own idiotic political decisions, El Salvador is an obvious example of how much better things could be if reason and sanity were restored in government.

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