Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s President, campaigns for re-election and rejects indefinite tenure
El Salvador.- President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador is actively campaigning for re-election, extending his reach beyond national borders to enhance his profile across Latin America. Despite constitutional prohibitions, Bukele was granted a six-month leave from December to pursue his re-election bid, appointing his private secretary as the interim leader with congressional approval.
The Supreme Court, influenced by Bukele-aligned judges, ruled in 2021 that he could seek a second term in the upcoming February 4 election. Addressing concerns about potential changes to the constitution for indefinite re-election, Bukele clearly stated he has no such intentions.
Bukele’s administration has been under scrutiny for its stringent approach to combating gang violence in El Salvador. Since March 2022, a state of emergency has been in effect, suspending certain rights like informing arrestees of the reason for their arrest or granting access to a lawyer. This period saw the arrest of approximately 74,000 people, though over 7,000 were later released. Despite criticism from human rights groups for the lack of due process and other abuses, Bukele’s anti-gang campaign has garnered significant domestic support due to the marked decrease in homicides.
Bukele touts El Salvador as the safest country in Latin America, a stark contrast to its previous ranking among the world’s deadliest. This claim, coupled with a willingness among many Salvadorans to trade off certain rights for safety, has bolstered his popularity.
Internationally, Bukele’s policies have drawn mixed reactions. His achievements, despite criticism from the United States and Europe, have resonated across Latin America. Echoing his speech at the 2023 United Nations General Assembly, Bukele asserts that his decisions have been vindicated by the improved security situation in El Salvador.
Bukele’s popularity in El Salvador remains high, enhanced by hosting prestigious events like the Central American and Caribbean Games and the Miss Universe pageant. He has been vocal against critics, often framing them as sympathizers of criminal gangs. His approach has influenced several Latin American political figures who aspire to replicate his hardline methods.
Bukele also shared insights from his conversation with Argentina’s newly elected Javier Milei. He advised Milei, known for his “anarcho-capitalist” stance and opposition to the Argentine political establishment, on navigating a system resistant to change.
In summary, Bukele’s campaign for re-election is significant not only for El Salvador but also as a point of discussion and influence in the broader Latin American political landscape.