Profile of Nayib Bukele in VQR
If you read nothing else written in English about El Salvador this week, I recommend that you read the profile of San Salvador mayor Nayib Bukele in the Virginia Quarterly Review. The feature length article written by Lauren Markham on the popular young mayor features not only the story of his rapid rise to being the most popular politician in the country, but also a look at the problems confronting the country and its capital as seen through Bukele's eyes.
Here Markham talks with Bukele about the national government's hard line approach to addressing violence:
Given the severity of these circumstances, it was almost baffling that Bukele hardly mentioned violence at all when we sat in his office in January, his people snapping photographs and filming us. He even tended to skirt the subject in favor of discussing his pet projects.
“Look,” he explained when I pressed him. “If you have a headache, what would you take? A Tylenol. But what you have isn’t a Tylenol deficiency. You are stressed, or you are dehydrated, or something more severe. So you take two, and then that doesn’t work, and you take four, and then ten.” La violencia was a symptom of a more troubling disease, he argued, rooted in El Salvador’s long-standing poverty and structural injustice (more than 32 percent of Salvadorans live below the poverty line in gang-controlled areas). Though he was stating relatively basic principles of economic development, so mired is El Salvador in the current violence vortex that few policy makers are discussing the situation in these terms.
Finally, lest there be any confusion, he drove the metaphor home. “Here, Tylenol is the police. People want more police, and I understand. It’s dangerous here—they have a headache, they want the Tylenol. But that won’t solve the problem.”Make sure and read the rest of the article titled Prince of Peace here.