The value of that investment in the currency, known as “BTC,” is now estimated to have fallen by more than 57 percent, or about $87 million.
“I see that some people are worried or anxious about the #Bitcoin market price,” Bukele wrote on his Twitter account late Saturday.
“My advice: stop looking at the chart and enjoy life. If you have invested in #BTC, your investment is safe and its value will grow tremendously after the bear market.
“Patience is the key,” the president wrote.
On Tuesday, when a Bitcoin publication crowed that El Salvador has lost “just” $57 million in its investment, Bukele tweeted in apparent disbelief, “You’re telling me we should buy more #BTC?”
But since then, the currency has continued to fall.
Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya tried to give the situation a good face in an interview with a local television station last week.
“If they tell me that El Salvador’s fiscal risk has increased because of the alleged loss, that loss does not exist,” Zelaya said.
“That needs to be made clear, because we didn’t sell.”
However, most companies and governments write off what accountants call an “unrealized loss,” even if they don’t sell the distressed asset.
Zelaya also emphasized that the Bitcoin slide doesn’t matter very much to El Salvador, saying that “it doesn’t even represent 0.5 percent of our budget”.
That can be a tough sell in a country where about a fifth of the people live on less than $7.90 a day.
In January, El Salvador rejected an International Monetary Fund recommendation to drop Bitcoin as legal tender.
Zelaya said at the time that “no international organization will let us do anything, anything”, calling it a matter of “sovereignty”.
The IMF advised El Salvador to dissolve the $215 million trust fund it had created when it made the cryptocurrency legal tender and return all those unused funds to its treasury.
The IMF was concerned about the volatility of Bitcoin prices and the possibility of criminals using the cryptocurrency.
Bukele has touted Bitcoin as a way to significantly increase financial inclusion, drawing millions of people who previously did not have bank accounts into the financial system.
He has also talked about the parallel tourism promotion aimed at Bitcoin enthusiasts.
Bukele led the push to use Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar.
El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly made the country the first to do so in June 2021.
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