Showing posts from September, 2022

Archbishop of San Salvador does not reject Bukele reelection plans

Going along with the prevailing sentiment in El Salvador, the archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, at his Sunday press conference indicated that the great majority of the people want, and will get, the opportunity to reelect Nayib Bukele in 2024.  From Rhina Guidos'  reporting in National Catholic Reporter: "The people have been disappointed, and now they see a light in the path ahead," which is why many overwhelmingly want the president to run again, Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas said during a Sept. 25 news conference, where his comments were taken as tacit support for President Nayib Bukele. Bukele's administration quickly disseminated the archbishop's comments via social media , posting them the following day on the front page of a government-run newspaper with the archbishop's photo and words above the fold. Reaction was swift. People "want" many things, but if they go against what the constitution says, it doesn't make it

El Salvador is saturated

Almost daily rainstorms in El Salvador this September have produced a variety of damages across the country. Although the country has not been in the direct path of any hurricanes or tropical storms this season, weather patterns have brought heavy rains time and time again.   With soils now heavily saturated with moisture, flooding, landslides, and falling trees become an increasing hazard. Fourteen people have perished in different parts of the country during September as a result of weather events. As of this writing, 28 municipalities are under red alert and the rest of the country is under orange alert.  In the past 24 hours , just as an example, there were 11 landslides, 6 fallen trees blocking roads, 2 damaged homes, 1 damaged car, 3 collapsed walls, and 2 fatalities in rushing waters on different sides of the country.  176 Salvadorans from 49 families were living in 10 temporary shelters. Farms in different parts of the country have reported agricultural losses from fields lef

Opposing a Guatemalan gold mine threatening El Salvador's water

In 2017, El Salvador's Legislative Assembly passed a law banning metallic mining throughout the country. Today, there is a new mining threat, because an open pit gold mine being developed just on the other side of the border in Guatemala could have a profoundly negative environmental impact on El Salvador's largest watershed, the Lempa River.   The planned mine in question is the  Cerro Blanco mine , owned by the Canadian gold mining company  Bluestone Resources .  The mine is located in southeastern Guatemala near Lake Guija. The lake's waters flow into the Lempa River, El Salvador's most important river, which supplies  people throughout the country. Bluestone Resources acquired the mining rights from fellow Canadian mining company GoldCorp in 2017.   In 2021, Bluestone revealed that instead of an underground mine, this operation would be an open pit strip mine, where cyanide is used to extract the gold from the surrounding rock and soil. The environmental degradatio

Bukele's armed forces

The history of El Salvador's military during the 20th century was filled with violations of democratic rule and basic human rights.   Decades of military dictatorship began in 1932 with General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez , who ordered " La Matanza ", the massacre of 10,000-20,000 mostly indigenous campesinos after a peasant-led uprising.   There would follow 47 years of governments imposed by the military and sham elections. During El Salvador's civil war from 1980-1992, the military would be responsible for massacres killing tens of thousands of civilians. The largest single massacre in Latin American history, the the massacre at El Mozote and surrounding communities, left a thousand dead, including more than 400 under the age of 12.   In 1989, a military squad would invade the campus of the University of Central America and kill 6 Jesuit priests, a female employee and her daughter.   At memorial wall to civilian victims of civil war Throughout those decades, the

The remittance engine for El Salvador's economy

According to statistics released by El Salvador's Central Reserve Bank, from January through August of this year, Salvadorans abroad have sent almost $5.065 billion in remittances to families back home.   This was an increase of 3.6% from the same period in 2021.   According to the Central Reserve Bank, $5.019 billion went towards consumption, in other words the purchase of basic household necessities.   Only a small percentage, 0.9% or $46 million, went towards investment or savings so far in 2022.     Almost a half million households, or 1 out of every 4 families, in El Salvador receive remittance payments.   Although remittances arrive from Salvadorans living all around the world, 93.8% of the total remittances come from the United States. Only 1.7% of the remittances arrived through digital wallets like the government's Chivo bitcoin app. Remittances represent as much as 20% of the total Salvadoran economy.  

On Independence Day, Bukele announces 2024 candidacy

In a speech to the nation on the evening of El Salvador's Independence Day, September 15, president Nayib Bukele announced that he will run for re-election in 2024.  Bukele asserted that he has been the first leader, acting at the will of the people, to achieve “true independence” in the 201 years since El Salvador came out from under the Spanish crown.  It seemed that the whole of the day's celebrations had been designed as a lead up to announcement of his candidacy. The day began with a military parade in San Salvador.  The Bukele government put the strong arm of the state on display in the parade filled with all the units of the military and police security forces.  It took more than two hours for all the marching troops to pass by. Marching past statues of the Divine Savior of the World and Saint Oscar Romero, were thousands of troops, most carrying automatic weapons.  There were flyovers by military helicopters, jets, and drones, passing repeatedly over the parade route. 

What Bukele wants to talk about

This post looks at primary social media themes of Nayib Bukele and his government in the past month.  In that time, Bukele has announced a number of new initiatives.   For those who are Bukele critics, you can bookmark this page and come back to it in the future to highlight any unfulfilled promises.   For those who are fans of Bukele, you can read this page as a description of what the future may hold.  The videos also serve as examples of the sophistication of the Bukele message machine. Education .   On September 7, Nayib Bukele announced an education initiative.  The government has already provided notebook computers to public school students in upper grades and tablets to younger students.  Under the My New School Initiative, Bukele announced that the country would build or remodel 5150 schools in five years.  He announced that curriculum and textbooks were being revised, and teachers were being re-trained.   Esta semana, el Presidente @nayibbukele anunció la implementación de

Reading List

A collection of English language articles from the past ten days in El Salvador.  The Rise of Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s Authoritarian President , Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, Sept. 5, 2022.  Feature length profile of El Salvador's president tracks the ascension to total power in El Salvador of Nayib Bukele. El Salvador's war on gangs leaves poor families reeling ,  Nelson Renteria and Anastasia Moloney | Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sept. 5, 2022.  The arrests and the arbitrary detentions of persons alleged to be connected to gangs have happened primarily in poor areas of El Salvador.  The impact on the affected families is grave when someone is arbitrarily arrested. Eviscerating human rights is not the answer to El Salvador’s gang problem , Amnesty International,  Aug. 31, 2022.   AI sums up its many concerns with human rights violations during the State of Exception. Two Months after Wrongful Arrest, Don Paco Returned Home in a Caske t, Efren Lemus, El Faro, Aug. 31, 20

Twitter critics of Bukele government being prosecuted

In recent days, El Salvador's Attorney General, has decided to prosecute two Salvadorans for what they published on Twitter.  While Nayib Bukele has often said that his government does not lock up protesters or critics, that might appear to be changing. The first of these persons is  a tech worker named Luis Alexander Rivas, who had been tweeting under the anonymous Twitter account @_elcomisionado_ .  Rivas has used that Twitter account, where he has 8400 followers, to be a vitriolic critic of the Nuevas Ideas-controlled government.  Rivas was initially arrested on August 21, shortly after he published a tweet with a photo criticizing the use of public funds in a deployment of public security forces at the beach providing security for the president's brother Karim Bukele and his family. It certainly wasn't the first time that Rivas had tweeted critiques of the president's family. His tweets have often been directed at first lady Gabriela Bukele as well.   Although the

Bukele's Bitcoin gambit one year later

September 7 marks one year since Bitcoin became legal tender in El Salvador alongside the US dollar.  Today we look back at the first year of president Nayib Bukele’s crypto gambit.  It has been a year in  which the crypto-currency made few inroads into the daily transactions of the Salvadoran economy, the collapse of the price of Bitcoin left the government holding coins worth much less than when Bukele bought them, and a much-hyped "Bitcoin Volcano bond" to fund "Bitcoin City" is still nowhere to be seen.      Bukele originally announced his plans to make Bitcoin the country’s currency at a Miami Bitcoin conference in June 2021, to the surprise of his nation and many others.  Within days, and with little debate or analysis by the Legislative Assembly, a 3 page law was passed to fulfill his announcement.  The law made Bitcoin legal tender and required every merchant in the economy to accept Bitcoin in payment if the merchant had the technical capacity to do so.