For sure, organized crime is a scourge that is plaguing much of the world – east and west, north and south, no one seems quite immune to it.
But there is one country who just a few years ago used to be one of the most dangerous places in the world, controlled by hellish gangs like MS13 – a nation whose homicide rate has now shrunk to one of the lowest in the planet.
We are talking about El Salvador, of course.
The President who made this miraculous thing happen is called Nayib Bukele, and for sure his tactics are so tough and intense as to turn the stomach on the more fragile sensibilities.
But how do you fight crime if not Bukele’s way? Songs and roses?
Until someone else achieves what he has – with other, more ‘humane’ methods – experience will be teaching us that Bukele’s way may be the only one.
Associated Press reported:
“To many, El Salvador’s president is a national hero who took on the country’s violent gangs with an unrelenting hand. To others, the populist is a 21st century autocrat who has committed mass human rights abuses and has altered the rules of the game to concentrate power in his own hands.”
Bukele has captured not only thousands of gang members, but also the world’s attention – in a way no other Latin American leaders have managed to, in recent times.
“The self-described ‘world’s coolest dictator’ is likely to easily skate into a second presidential term in the election Sunday. After sidestepping El Salvador’s constitution prohibiting reelection in six different places, Bukele has the support of from seven to nine of every 10 voters, according to recent polling.
[…] Bukele’s almost certain victory will further cement his grip on power as his tough tactics ripple out from this small Central American nation to other places with their own security crises like Ecuador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. That worries rights advocates across the region.”
Elected in 2019, Bukele, a publicity manager of Palestinian descent, became Latin America’s youngest leader.
He declared a state of emergency, and proceeded to lock up an astounding 76,000 people — more than 1% of the population.
Vice president and reelection running mate, Félix Ulloa denies the government has suspended the rights of ‘honorable’ Salvadorans. The crackdown are for the greater good of the country and are widely popular. ‘This is not a police state, it’s a state that provides security’.
“Bukele has pinned his campaign on the gang crackdown, warning Salvadorans that if his New Ideas party doesn’t win the election, ‘the war with the gangs would be put at risk. The opposition will be able to achieve its true and only plan, to free the gang members and use them to return to power’, he said in one video as his message is spread widely on television, radio and social media.”
All of the above is not to suggest that Bukele’s rule has been perfect, since poverty is a problem that hasn’t been tackled yet.
But there is no denying that a secure country has more chance to thrive than a criminals’ stronghold.