Last Friday, September 22, news was released that has caused a stir in the political and economic sphere of the United States: Democratic Senator from New Jersey Bob Menéndez and his wife Nadine Menéndez were accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for “protecting and enriching businessmen and benefiting the Government of Egypt”.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which is prosecuting the case against the congressman, Menendez used his power and influence, including his leadership role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to further the interests of the Egyptian government, providing confidential information from the US government to Egyptian officials and secretly helping Egypt.
The bribes the couple received included cash, gold, mortgage payments, a fictitious job for Nadine and a Mercedes Benz vehicle. When FBI agents searched the senator's residence and safe, they found “approximately $500,000 in cash, stuffed in envelopes and cabinets” and that “some of the money was stuffed in the senator's jacket pockets”.
This is not the first time Menéndez has faced corruption charges. In 2015, he was charged with conspiracy, bribery and fraud for allegedly accepting gifts and favors from ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen in exchange for intervening in matters involving visas, contracts and Medicare disputes. However, in 2018, the case was dismissed after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Menendez has strongly denied the accusations and has attributed his persecution to political and racial motives. In a statement, he said: “For years, actors behind the scenes have tried to silence me and bury me politically. Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latin American from humble origins can become a United States senator and serve with honor and distinction”.
However, beyond the senator's defense, what draws attention is his openly opposed position on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Menéndez is one of the legislators who has expressed concern about the negative impact that the adoption of Bitcoin as legal currency in El Salvador could have. In June of this year, Menéndez sent a letter to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international partners to “mitigate the risk” that Bitcoin poses for El Salvador. In the letter, Menéndez stated that Bitcoin “opens doors to illicit money laundering and corruption” and that it “could undermine efforts to establish a transparent and inclusive economy” in the Central American country.
Likewise, Menéndez has been critical of other initiatives related to cryptocurrencies, such as the bill that seeks to regulate stablecoins in the United States and Facebook's proposal to launch its own digital currency.
What does this tell us about the current financial system? The news that anti-Bitcoin senator Bob Menéndez is accused of corruption raises a series of questions about the current financial system and the role that cryptocurrencies play in it. Why is a senator who receives bribes in cash and gold opposed to Bitcoin? What interests does he defend by criticizing El Salvador's sovereign decision to adopt Bitcoin as legal currency? What does he fear as he sees the growth and innovation of cryptocurrencies?
The answer could be that Bitcoin represents a threat to the status quo of the financial system dominated by central banks, elites and governments. Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, which does not depend on any central authority for its issuance, regulation or control. It is a transparent currency, which is based on an open and public network, where all transactions are verifiable and auditable. It is also an inclusive currency, allowing access to financial services to millions of people who do not have bank accounts or who suffer from inflation, censorship or confiscation.
Some phrases from Bob Menéndez against bitcoin and/or cryptocurrencies that I have found on the web:
❌ "The use of bitcoin as legal currency could undermine efforts to establish a transparent and inclusive economy, and could facilitate illicit money laundering and corruption".
❌ "Cryptocurrencies represent a risk to national security and the global financial order, as they can be used by malicious actors to evade sanctions, finance terrorism or avoid taxes".
❌ "Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value and are highly speculative".
❌ "I am deeply concerned about the impact of President Bukele's decision to adopt bitcoin as legal tender and the consequences it could have on the economic stability, security and transparency of El Salvador".
❌ "Bitcoin can open the doors of corruption in El Salvador".
Bitcoin is, ultimately, a currency that empowers people and gives them the freedom to choose how to manage their money, which challenges the current financial system characterized by opacity, corruption and exclusion. The case of Senator Menéndez is just an example of how many of those who have power are corrupt and try to keep the masses in the obscurantism of fiat money and that only serve the elites and banks that dominate us. These are the same ones who resist the change and progress that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies represent.
That is why it is important that we inform ourselves, educate ourselves and participate in the crypto movement, that we support the countries, companies and people that adopt Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as an alternative to the current financial system, that we defend our right to use the money we want, without intermediaries or restrictions.
Bitcoin, as I often comment, is not just a currency, it is a revolution.
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