Bitcoin in Cuba: Why some Cubans are adopting BTC to escape ‘The Matrix’

Cuban Businessperson and Bitcoin Advocate Erich Garcia Cruz

Erich Garcia Cruz, a Cuban businessperson and Bitcoin advocate, believes that Bitcoin (BTC) adoption could increase in Cuba if private businesses recognize the potential benefits of using it as a form of currency.

Cruz, a recent immigrant to the United States, is a vocal advocate for the acceptance of Bitcoin in Cuba. He heads the remittance and money transfer services BitRemesas and QvaPay, and has been vocal in his support for Cuban citizens to utilize Bitcoin since 2020.

In an interview with Cointelegraph for an upcoming documentary, Cruz stated that Bitcoin can be utilized by Cubans “as a tool.”

Bitcoin as a Tool to Escape the Matrix

While some Cubans utilize Bitcoin as a form of savings, an exchange medium, or a method of remittance, ultimately it is about escaping “the Matrix,” as Cruz put it, referring to Cuba’s centrally-controlled and communist economic system.

Cuba has no free press, and the long-standing US trade embargo makes it difficult for Cubans to obtain American goods, services, and apps. On the contrary, Bitcoin is not subject to control by any government or central entity, and has no head or ruling body.

During his visit to El Salvador in 2022, Cruz was asked by a friend, “If Cuba is governed by a communist party, how do you teach about Bitcoin there?” It was obvious that the party would be against Bitcoin.

Cruz suggests that the government may already be aware of how Bitcoin operates, and posits that it could be used to “circumvent some sanctions around the world” using digital currency.

Furthermore, since 2021, the government has been becoming more open to cryptocurrencies, allowing private companies to legally utilize them such as Bitcoin for the exchange of goods and services. Cruz suggests that instead of the Cuban peso (CUP) or the freely convertible currency (MLC), more and more private businesses should begin to accept cryptocurrency.

The Cuban Bitcoin Community and Private Businesses

The Cuban peso has depreciated by over 800% since its creation. If a Cuban had bought Bitcoin at its peak of $69,000, they would still have more worth in Bitcoin than in pesos. Furthermore, the MLC is a government-supported stablecoin used for purchases in state-operated supermarkets. Cubans who are seeking to save money generally do so in the U.S. dollar and, more and more, Bitcoin.

Cruz cites his father as an example, who three years ago used his Cuban peso pension fund to purchase a small amount of Bitcoin. His pension fund has been greatly diminished as the Cuban peso has depreciated, whereas Bitcoin has not only held its value but increased its purchasing power.

Despite the large depreciation of the Cuban peso, Bitcoin has a poor reputation in Cuba. Cruz was taken advantage of by a crypto project prior to gaining knowledge of what Bitcoin is.

Despite Cuba having a highly educated population with free university education, the island is shielded from Western influences and the internet has only been accessible in a meaningful way in the past five years. As Cruz notes, the internet is still a relatively new tool in the country.

The Cuban Bitcoin community held a gathering where only Bitcoin was accepted.

The work of Cruz and the Cuban Bitcoin community is aimed at private businesses in Cuba, making it a potential hotspot for Bitcoin adoption.

Cruz’s interview will be included in a forthcoming documentary about Bitcoin in Cuba.

Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club has put Bitcoin on the map.

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