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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Bukele re-elected as president of El Salvador

Bukele boasted, "El Salvador went from being the most unsafe (country) to the safest. Now in these next five years, wait to see what we are going to do."

President Nayib Bukele clinched a resounding triumph in El Salvador’s elections on Sunday, as voters overlooked concerns about potential democratic erosion to applaud his robust campaign against gangs, which has significantly improved security in the Central American nation. San Salvador’s central square saw a massive gathering of Bukele’s supporters adorned in cyan blue, celebrating his re-election, characterized by the 42-year-old leader as a “referendum” on his administration.

Even before the official results were disclosed, Bukele declared himself the winner, asserting that he had garnered more than 85% of the vote. Initial results indicated an 83% support for Bukele, with 31% of the ballots counted. His New Ideas party is anticipated to secure nearly all 60 seats in the legislative body, consolidating its control over the country and amplifying Bukele’s influence as the most potent leader in modern El Salvador.

In a bold assertion, Bukele boasted, “El Salvador went from being the most unsafe (country) to the safest. Now in these next five years, wait to see what we are going to do.” The electoral success of New Ideas affords Bukele unprecedented power, potentially enabling him to revamp the constitution, a prospect that alarms opponents who fear the elimination of term limits.

Crackdown against thousands of people 

Bukele, immensely popular, campaigned on the accomplishments of his security strategy, which saw the suspension of civil liberties to arrest over 75,000 Salvadorans without charges. This massive crackdown resulted in a significant reduction in nationwide murder rates, fundamentally transforming a nation of 6.3 million people that was once considered among the world’s most perilous.

Despite his success, some analysts caution against the sustainability of the mass incarceration of 1% of the population in the long run. In a press conference preceding the election results, Bukele expressed the need for continued support to sustain the anti-gang efforts and reshape El Salvador.

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He remarked, “So, if we have already overcome our cancer, with metastases that were the gangs, now we only have to recover and be the person we always wanted to be.” The election outcome seemed inevitable, with polls indicating that most voters sought to reward Bukele for dismantling the crime groups that had rendered life intolerable in El Salvador and fueled waves of migration to the United States. Traditional parties, such as FMLN and ARENA, were poised to receive single-digit support, further signaling a rejection of the violence and corruption associated with their decades-long rule.