Nayib Bukele: The 'World's Coolest Dictator' Easily Wins Reelection After Arresting 1% of Nation

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 02/05/2024
El Salvador voters seemed to have awarded Nayib Bukele a second term as president, setting him up for a resounding win in a contest that for many was about accepting less civil freedoms in exchange for security in a nation that had previously been ravaged by gangs. 

With votes from 31% of polling stations counted, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said late on Sunday that Bukele had 83% of the vote, a significant lead over his closest rival's 7%, according to the AP. Before the referendum, the 42-year-old self-described "world's coolest dictator" enjoyed skyrocketing popularity ratings and almost no opposition.

That is in spite of worries that during his first term, Bukele's administration gradually undermined checks and balances. With the approval of a "state of emergency" in March 2022, the government has detained approximately 76,000 individuals, accounting for almost 1% of the population of the Central American country. 

Although there have been many allegations of widespread violations of human rights and a lack of due process after the gang assault, there has been a sharp decline in violence in a nation that was considered to be among the most dangerous in the world just a few years ago.

"Why is a little (Latin American) nation receiving so much attention?" Bukele said while standing on the National Palace balcony. "The power of example is what they fear." Bukele has faced criticism for consolidating power in his own hands throughout his administration, a charge that many fear will likely intensify after Sunday's election. Voters should support candidates outside of Bukele's party in order to maintain checks and balances, according to opposition politician Claudia Ortiz of the VAMOS party. In a video capture from voting places, she said, "Absolute power corrupts utterly."


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