In El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, popular and populist president

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador, after leaving a polling station during the legislative elections in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Sunday February 28, 2021.

He proclaimed himself the coolest president in the world. Nayib Bukele tweets wildly, displays cheeky popularity and is, at 39, the youngest – and one of the most controversial – head of state in Latin America. Blessing for some, a populist trampling on the rule of law for others, this millennial who took everyone by surprise by establishing bitcoin as a national currency (like the American dollar, the other currency in circulation ) is still, for many, an enigma.

During his campaign in 2019, his progressive speech, without concession for the two parties until then in power and plagued by corruption, suggests that a new era is opening in El Salvador. It embodies the end of thirty years of bipartisanship between the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena, right, 1989-2009) and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN, ex-left guerrilla, 2009-2019).

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The first days of his mandate bear witness to his showmanship: he fired dozens of civil servants by tweeting, whom he accused of having been hired by nepotism. We applaud him or we doom him to complaining. But, two years after coming to power, his popularity seems to prove him right: 92.1% of Salvadorans have a good opinion of him.

Jorge is a 27-year-old bookseller. He does not have enough words to express his gratitude to a president who, during the pandemic, gave 300 dollars in allowance (about 254 euros), distributed food baskets, brought out of the ground a brand new hospital for patients. patients with Covid-19, not hesitating to put the country in debt. “No government has ever given so much to the people”, he emphasizes.

God’s “instrument”

The results of his first two years include the fastest vaccination campaign in Central America. And a halving of the number of homicides compared to 2019. Very quickly, however, his methods contrast with his speech. On February 9, 2020, after eight months without a parliamentary majority, facing the ruthless opposition of the Arena and the FMLN, Nayib Bukele entered the chamber accompanied by soldiers armed to the teeth, to force a convened meeting by the Council of Ministers. After a brief moment seated in the place of the President of the Assembly, he explains that God has asked him not to dissolve Parliament, because he will get it at the ballot box.

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Janelle B. Smith

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