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Sunday's municipal elections

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On Sunday March 3, Salvadorans will go to the polls for the second set of national elections in a month.   In these elections, Salvadorans will elect their mayors and will elect deputies of the Central American Parliament.  (PARLACEN). Three years ago Salvadorans elected mayors in 262 different municipalities.  However, in a measure passed 8 months ago, the Legislative Assembly consolidated those 262 municipalities into only 44 municipalities at the directive of Nayib Bukele.  The old municipalities are now "districts" within the 44 new mega-municipalities which have memorable names like San Salvador East and La Libertad South.   The new municipalities and the districts which make them up are shown at this link .   This reduction in the number of local government bodies was gerrymandering on a dramatic scale.   One analyst portrayed the impact of the change using results from the last elections in 2021. Using the votes cast for mayors in 2021, and grouping them according to

Bukele and the MAGA movement

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 In 2019, after he was elected president in El Salvador for the first time, Nayib Bukele made his first public appearance not in El Salvador, but at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.   On Thursday, Bukele made a return trip to speak to conservatives in Washington, this time as a featured speaker at CPAC , the Conservative Political Action Conference.  The conference is attended by pundits, activists and politicians from the Trump wing (which is almost the entirety) of the Republican party. The BBC summarized some of Bukele's remarks: Mr. Bukele told the conference that the next US president must have the will and courage to do "whatever it takes" to overcome the "dark forces" that he said were trying to control the US. He received loud applause for when he attacked institutions including what he called "corrupt judges" and fake news in both his country and the US. He also repeatedly cast an undefined group of "g

Deported back to El Salvador - 8 years of data

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It has been a long time since I've shared numbers on deportations back to El Salvador on El Salvador Perspectives, so it is time for an update. The International Office of Migration for the UN (IOM) has a valuable website with statistics for migration flows from the Northern Triangle of Central America through Mexico to the United States.  The following graph, from IOM data, shows the number of persons officially removed from the United States and Mexico back to El Salvador.   I say "officially removed" because these statistics do not include people who gave up along the route north and returned home to El Salvador of their own volition, or persons who "self-deported" back to El Salvador from the US or Mexico after living in either country. The graph shows calendar year data going back to 2016.  Over those eight years, the highest totals for deportations from both Mexico and the US was 2016, the final year of the Obama administration.   The second highest total

Having changed law in its favor, Nuevas Ideas walks away with 90% of Legislative Assembly

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The troubled vote count for Legislative Assembly in El Salvador ended today.   Nayib Bukele's absolute control over the legislature was solidified as a product of elections conducted under rules changed for the express purpose of benefitting Nuevas Ideas. Results are here . In the Legislative Assembly elections, on a nationwide basis, Nuevas Ideas was not as popular as its leader Bukele. The party received 71% of the popular vote compared to his 83% in the presidential election. However, because of a series of election law changes passed at the last minute in June 2023, the party will obtain 54 seats, equal to 90% of the 60 seat Legislative Assembly.   How did 71% of the votes turn into 90% of the deputies? It's a matter of election engineering through changing mathematical formulas.  Let me explain.  A year ago, Salvadorans thought they knew the rules of the game for the coming national elections. After all, the country had a law on the books which stated that changes in the e

A highly troubled scrutiny of Legislative Assembly votes

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In El Salvador's Adolfo Pineda National Gymnasium, 300 work tables have been set up to tabulate  results for the election of seats in the Legislative Assembly.  Boxes of ballots from all over the country are brought to the facility, where ballots are reviewed and the results "digitized" to produce election results through a process called the "escrutinio final" or "final scrutiny."     However, election observers, the press, and opposition party representatives have been denouncing a wide variety of anomalies and discrepancies in the process.       Each position in the gym works to tabulate the results from individual votes placed into the ballot box at a "Junta Receptora de Votos" or JRV.   Citizens throughout the country were assigned in groups of 700 for each JRV to cast their votes.   (This does not apply to voting from abroad for the diaspora which was a different process, and for which we do not know how those votes are going to be ve

Government fails to keep promises to El Salvador's 183 year old public university

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February 16 is the 183rd anniversary of the founding of the University of El Salvador .  The University, known locally as either "the National" or "UES," is the oldest and only public university in El Salvador.  The UES enrolls more than 50,000 students at its central campus in San Salvador, with additional students taking classes at 3 small locations around the country.  Today, however, the university is struggling as the government fails to deliver millions in budgeted funding and usurps university facilities for other purposes.    Throughout much of its 183 years the University has had a precarious existence.  During the turbulent 1970s and the civil war of the 1980s, the school was shut down for years at a time as the military governments saw students and faculty as left-wing agitators. In 1986, the earthquake which hit San Salvador damaged much of the university infrastructure.  Following the civil war, the university gradually got back on its feet, although d

With important rights indefinitely suspended, 83% voted for Bukele

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On Friday, February 9, El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced the final results of the presidential election.  We already knew Bukele had won in a landslide, the only real question was the exact margin of victory. With turnout around 52%, Nayib Bukele won with 82.7% of the votes: The votes for Legislative Assembly have not yet been counted . The announcement of the final results in Bukele's unconstitutional reelection came on the 4th anniversary of Bukele's first major step towards asserting authoritarian power in the county.  On February 9, 2020, Nayib Bukele sent armed troops ahead of himself into the Legislative Assembly.   He was demanding that the Assembly, then controlled by parties other than Nuevas Ideas, approve a loan package to buy military equipment.  As Bukele sat himself down at the place of the president of the Assembly, with his troops ringing the legislative chamber, Bukele sent a clear message that he wanted an  Assembly subservient to his wi