The young president of small Central American nation El Salvador leapt to worldwide fame this week after his country became the first in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, but Nayib Bukele is no stranger to controversy.
Cryptocurrency fans across the globe celebrated when his bill was swiftly approved by lawmakers on Wednesday, and when the 39-year-old leader followed up with a plan to mine energy from volcanoes to power the massive data centers needed to mint the digital currency.
The move did not escape scrutiny. The International Monetary Fund quickly flagged economic and legal risks to the unprecedented use of bitcoin in the small economy.
From firing officials via Twitter to entering Congress with heavily armed soldiers, Bukele has tended to ruffle establishment feathers since he became president in 2019.
He swept congressional and local elections in February and enjoys an approval rating of over 90% despite the economy shrinking by 8% last year. His alliance won a historic supermajority, crushing the two parties that had dominated Salvadoran politics for 30 years.
Just weeks before adopting bitcoin brought him a new international spotlight, Bukele fell out with the Biden administration after the new Congress summarily removed the attorney general and top judges from office.
He says all his actions are constitutional and backed by popular mandate.
The top prosecutor had been investigating government officials. Bukele also closed an anticorruption office he himself had opened.