Yesterday, Nayib Bukele, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, arrived at the voting center installed on Avenida Olimpica. And draw the smile of those who sing victory before the ballot boxes open. If the 6.2 million citizens who can pay (740,000 of them abroad) know anything, it is that the outcome was pre-written. Bukele, the champion of the tough hand, the implementing arm of a tough anti-crime policy that led to the imprisonment of 71,000 people, has completed his electoral process and returned to be greeted by those who lived him as a natural winner of the contest. A president who was practically re-elected.
International observers observed a “relatively normal development” of the electoral process. The word “normal” was also characterized by a general acceptance of the facts. Opinion polls leading up to the elections gave him an overwhelming advantage over the other five competing parties. Manuel Chino Flores, of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, Bukele's direct affiliate, appeared in opinion polls at a distance of 75 points.
The elections were marked by institutional anomalies. The law in El Salvador does not provide for a second consecutive term. But Bukele got a constitutional court to endorse his aspirations. On Sunday night, at the age of 42, after starting politically on the left (the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), leaning toward the center and jumping to the right, he will end up carving a model for the country in his own image and likeness.
Dreams of eternity
His landslide victory was so expected that the head of the New Ideas group, Representative Christian Guevara, predicted the end of the opposition parties in the Legislative Council. Felix Ulloa, current vice president and Bukele's colleague, was more daring in front of the Univisión cameras. He spoke of a new presidential re-election within four years, which contradicts institutional legitimacy. He pointed out that “in politics everything is possible.”
The newspaper Hoy warned of the “dictatorial” dreams of boclesimo. He claimed that the alarm signal was sounded by Ulloa in statements to the New York Times. “To the people who say we are dismantling democracy, I answer them: ‘Yes, but we are not dismantling it, we are eliminating it, replacing it with something new.’”
These opinions were not overlooked by Katia Salazar, Executive Director of Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF), who arrived in the country as an election observer. “I must warn that nowhere in the world has a government with all powers succeeded. It is dangerous to have one party.”
According to observers, a strong military presence was recorded in the streets and polling stations during Election Day. El Salvador is, in fact, militaristic. Bukele went from making deals with criminal gangs to all-out war on March 27, 2022, which left 87 people dead in 72 hours. The homicide rate, which reached 106.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, fell to 2.4 in 2023. The fight against gangs has even led to children being sent to prison. The Central American country has 42.7% of the population in poverty and 1.7% of the population is detained in prisons. Human rights organizations have submitted thousands of complaints about arbitrary arrest, torture, and other crimes committed by state forces. Bukele was not affected by these allegations.
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