Former guerilla and Colombian economist, Gustavo Petro, was elected president of the country, beating his opponent who claimed ignorance of Bitcoin.
This is an opinion editorial by João, founder of Boletim Bitcoin, a Brazilian website focused on Bitcoin, and contributor at Bitcoin Magazine.
This story was originally published in Portuguese by Boletim Bitcoin.
Former rebel Gustavo Petro, left, his wife Veronica Alcocer, back center, and his running mate Francia Marquez, celebrate before supporters after winning a runoff presidential election in Bogota, Colombia on June 19, 2022. (Photo/Fernando Vergara—AP)
Who Is Gustavo Petro?
Gustavo Petro is a Colombian economist, who served as a guerrilla and most recently a senator from Colombia, and was elected as president of the Latin American country with 50.49% of the votes against 47.25% in favor of Rodolfo Hernández, a businessman who became known as the “Colombian Donald Trump.”
Petro served as a guerrilla in the Movimento 19 de Abril (M-19) group, which later became the M-19 Democratic Alliance party, in which he was elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies, starting his political career.
After the election, Gustavo Petro stated that he intends to “develop capitalism in Colombia.” According to the president, it is necessary “to overcome feudalism in Colombia, to overcome the hereditary mentality linked to this world of serfs.”
Rival candidate Rodolfo Hernández acknowledged the election result.
Petro became known for helping to sign Colombian government deals with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and similar groups in 2016, as well as denouncing corruption scandals.
Gustavo Petro And Bitcoin
On more than one occasion, Gustavo Petro has stated that bitcoin is a superior cash technology and that Colombia should direct its energy surplus to mine the cryptocurrency in strategic regions, as a way to curb the trade in illicit substances.
In 2017, Petro stated:
“Bitcoin removes the issuing power of states and seigniorage of currency from banks. It is a community currency that is based on the trust of those who transact with it, as it is based on a blockchain, trust is measured and grows, hence its strength.”
Regarding bitcoin mining, Petro said:
“Cryptocurrencies need clean energy and we can do what El Salvador did, which is export clean energy. We can do it with the wind from La Guajira, with the waterfalls, without making reservoirs, from the western mountain range to the Pacific or the ocean.
“And we can transform the Wayú communities, the coal workers of the Cesar region, the black communities of the Colombian Pacific coast into owners of these new forms of energy, linked to cryptocurrency computing, and then we will have another world.”
Interestingly, Petro is being billed by local media as the first left-wing president elected in the country, which has been ruled in recent years by supposedly centrist parties. This fact, in some ways, contrasts with the origin and libertarian ideas from which Bitcoin emerged — influenced by a strong community of cryptographers, mathematicians and libertarians.
When asked about Bitcoin, Petro’s rival candidate stated that he is unaware of the subject, and spoke about more regulations for the industry.
If Colombia integrates bitcoin under the government of Gustavo Petro, either through mining or making the cryptocurrency legal tender, it would be the third sovereign country in the world to follow this path, initiated by El Salvador and accompanied by the Central African Republic.
Importance Of Mining
Bitcoin mining is one of the most fundamental aspects of the protocol’s operation, being responsible for an important part of the network’s security. Through mining and the Nakamoto Consensus rules, the network agrees on the end state of transactions.
In recent years, dozens of major institutional players have started to integrate mining as a way to monetize idle and underutilized electricity, or energy sources that would otherwise be wasted. This is the case of a number of major oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, that are using flare gas — gas that would be burned into the atmosphere due to inherent issues in the sector — for bitcoin mining.
The government of El Salvador plans to use geothermal energy from its volcanoes to mine bitcoin, something that is set to become significant for the industry. Colombia entering into bitcoin mining would be exponentially bigger than the Salvadoran experiment, as the country has a gross domestic product of $271 billion, about 10 times that of El Salvador.
Colombia is ranked 11th in the global ranking of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption in the 2021 Chainalysis report, behind Venezuela and Argentina in the region.
This is a guest post by João. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.