How Do We Decide Who Represents Bitcoin to Governments?

I arrived home from El Salvador just after 5am today (didn't sleep much on the plane, but caught a nap a bit ago) to see this very odd story developing on Twitter regarding two different front page stories in the Noticia paper. I have a physical copy of the newspaper which you can see in my previous post Bringing Tools for Freedom to El Salvador.

Some of the claims online (including it was "photoshopped") compelled me to quickly put a post together and set the record strait. Here's a picture of my copy along with the latest bitcoin blocks this morning:

Edit: according to this tweet, the paper doesn’t circulate in El Salvador. Seems I have more digging to do to figure out what’s going on here.

The digital version makes no mention of bitcoin or a meeting with the delegation or with Brock. I started wondering, why did the online version change? We can't know for sure without talking to the editors, but I started speculating. Were they influenced by comments made by Peter McCormick (who showed up just before we did) in this CoindeskTV short:

"I spoke to the president about this. I said to the president specifically...I told them about Brock Pierce. I said, you know, be wary of this guy."

I understand Peter to be a bitcoin maximalist who believes everything else is a shitcoin and will cause more harm than good. He went on to say:

"They don't need explaining Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash, Cumrocket and all kinds of crapcoins we have everywhere."

I was there, meeting with the representatives of the government. There was no mention of Ethereum or Bitcoin Cash or other tokens.

Day one at the white house:

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Keep in mind, there were only a handful of government representatives. All those other seats were filled with members of the bitcoin community.

It was an honor to be there.

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I appreciate the maximalist position that bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency worth valuing, but I don't share it completely. I think every voice needs to be heard and no one person should have too much influence over who represents bitcoin. This is another reason I'm so proud to have been part of this large, diverse group.

I got to give a five minute presentation to the secretaries of the government and the amazing peer group of blockchain industry leaders about the FIO Protocol and our idea to give everyone in El Salvador their own FIO Wallet Handle.

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I've given a number of talks in my career, but this one felt like the most important one so far.

The goal is to help human beings. If technology doesn't do that, it's useless. Bitcoin maximalists can obtain and use a FIO Address without ever owning FIO tokens using our open source registration website, and it provides a joyful user experience people need instead of the confusion of native blockchain public addresses. We have to make using bitcoin easier, both online and offline.

"Official" Delegation?

There's been some questions about the word "official" in this tweet:

We were told we were the first "official delegation" the government of El Salvador has hosted since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Many of us who own bitcoin see ourselves as members of a borderless nation open to all, and I think this detail is really important: We, the distributed bitcoin community from around the world (not just those in attendance), were being recognized by a nation state government as "official."

We are bitcoin ambassadors.

So are you.

We were part of an official delegation.

We were not trying to claim exclusivity or special privilege over anyone else in terms of representing bitcoin. A call was made to invite people to join Brock who spent his own time and money to make this happen and in less than 7 business days, we were all on the ground, some making the decision to attend literally the night before. If we had more time to organize and craft our messages beforehand, we probably wouldn't have used the word "official" in a way that could be so easily misunderstood.

If you have the political capital to meet with a government and help them, by all means do so. If you want to pay for a flight and hotel and time away from your businesses and family, go for it.

I understand bitcoin maximalists believe they are protecting Salvadorians by focusing on bitcoin only. There are thousands of scams and many people are hurt by making poor financial decisions speculating in short-term ponzis instead of doing their own research and investing in long-term value. I understand how many who have been working tirelessly on the ground in El Salvador for years might be upset to think Brock and those who joined him are swooping in to try and take credit for all their work. They didn't get to hear how Brock honored that work during the delegation with the government. They probably didn't know how the Bitcoin Beach founders were honored directly and celebrated in front of the US Ambassador to El Salvador:

We may not all agree on whether bitcoin will be the only mass-adopted cryptocurrency, but I hope we can agree that spreading hate and division is not the answer. We're going to win via love.

The thoughts expressed here on this blog (as always) are mine and mine alone. Just as I wouldn't claim to represent the views of all bitcoincoiners, I don't claim to represent the views of the amazing men and women who I had the pleasure of working with in El Salvador these past few days. I have a deep respect for you all, and it was an honor to show up and serve beside you.

To close out this post, I'll leave a Facebook memory from 2018 that popped up on my feed while I was in El Salvador:

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This is why I work in this industry. It's all about financial inclusion, freedom, and voluntary, non-violent interactions. If you feel the same way, we are partners together on the same journey.

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