President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador is making significant progress to end gang violence and human trafficking in Central America’s smallest country. However, political corruption in El Salvador is attempting to slow down the progress on ending gang violence, something that the people have so desperately called for.

The President’s widely respected “Territory Control Plan” is starting to take back blocks of cities in El Salvador that were once controlled by gangs. The effort is lowering homicide rates, slowing human trafficking and reducing narcotics distribution.

Since I moved to El Salvador two years ago, I can see the effects of these positive changes. It’s a breath of fresh air to Salvadoran people that have lived under the torment of gang violence and political corruption for decades. Just look at the suicide’s among young females in El Salvador. It’s absolutely tragic.

To me, I have no specific interest in which President is in office here. I’m a foreigner. My support is with the people, and the goal of the people is clear: They want to live in peace and with less violence.

Change Is Making Some Of The Powerful Elite Unhappy

Change often affects the status quo in negative ways. The changing tide of the President’s campaign to decrease crime is having a deep impact. The previous powerful elite, namely the two opposing political parties of the sitting president, are getting nervous while their deep-rooted ties with dark criminal organizations are slowly being exposed and/or cut off altogether.

ARENA (the political right) and FMLN (the political left), are the two powerful political parties in El Salvador. Both have been playing a game of “hot potato” with the dissatisfied public of El Salvador. Every time the people get tired of the abuses of one party, the party passes the ball to the opposing party. This game ended in June of 2019 when Nayib Bukele, the new independent president of El Salvador came into office.

Decades Of Misappropriated Public Funds

Before the new president came into office, ARENA and FMLN were ransacking the country. Here’s a breakdown of the past abuses:

Party:President:Years In Office:Notes:
Independent, GANA PartyNayib Armando Bukele Ortez2019- CurrentCurrent President
FMLN (Left)Salvador Sánchez Cerén2014-2019Party bought votes from gangs – Pending Trial
ARENANorman Quijano (Presidential Candidate)Ran in 2014Witnesses Claimed He Negotiated With Gangs. Pending Trial. Currently: President of the 
Legislative Assembly (since 2018)
FMLN (Left)Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena2009-2014Stole $700,000 USD – Illicit Enrichment Charges – Fled to Nicaragua
ARENA (Right)Elías Antonio “Tony” Saca González2004-2009Stole $300 Million USD – embezzlement and money laundering
ARENA (Right)Francisco Guillermo Flores Pérez1999-2004Charged with stealing $15 million

You can see how this is a complete mess. Both ARENA and FMLN were robbing the public coffers and then passing the ball to the other political party, which would then do the same.

It’s important to mention that political parties in El Salvador have little difference from traditional forms of tribalism. The party is the tribe, where secrets stay, people look out for each other, and loyalty is essentially guaranteed one way or another. It’s also usually impossible to determine whom committed what crimes and what each person’s true role is.

The corruption was a continuous cycle until relatively recently. And the change in politics shows the people’s desperate desire to rid the country of injustice.

Civilians & Soldiers Show Their Support For The President

More than 5,000 supporters flooded the streets to support President Nayib Bukele
Nayib Bukele Supporters
The streets were shoulder to shoulder with supporters

The current President is seeing a lot of success with his plan to fight gang violence. Recently, in order to get additional funding for his Territory Control Plan, he held a vote to get an $109 Million loan approved. The national police and the military need money to keep the momentum on fighting gang crime.

The important vote was blocked

Oddly, many of the government legislators blocked the vote. In a an effort to intentionally snub the President, they didn’t even show up to the vote. The building was nearly empty. A lot of people in El Salvador were confused and frustrated.

When the legislators blocked the vote, the President was shocked. “This was for the security of the people? Do they want the people to live in violence?“… was how most Salvadorans interpreted the blocked vote. More than 5,000 citizen supporters visited the parliamentary building to show their support. Similarly, military commanders called the troops to visit the parliamentary building to offer support and solidarity to the president, along with more than 5,000 civilian supporters.

Keep in mind, this work is highly dangerous. The police and the military depend on the vital gear and arms that are necessary to maintain leverage over the gangs. Gangs backed by corrupt politicians are nothing to play games with. This is terrorism. People disappear weekly here: Police, military, journalists, politicians and civilians. Corrupt government insiders get privileged information and pass it on to gangs to do the dirty work.

An Unusual Twist Of…Cries?

When the troops showed up in the parliamentary building to offer their political support, the building was mostly empty because the opposition leaders never showed up to vote. Only 22 of the 84 legislators were there, most of whom were already in support of the president’s plan.

When the absent legislators learned that the president had later brought the soldiers into the Parliamentary building, they claimed that they felt threatened. What? They weren’t even there to feel threatened. Secondly, all of the President’s closest political supporters were there. If the corrupt politicians were going to strike an attack, they could have done it and wiped out the President and his entire team. After all, they weren’t there intentionally.

Anyway, the absent legislators cried internationally for sympathy and any semblance of support. They cried to Human Rights groups, claiming that this was a threat. The absent legislators questioned if this was constitutional, which it was. In a pathetic move, they even went to the embassy offices of other foreign nations in El Salvador, where they got virtually no support. They saw through these childish games.

The majority of people in El Salvador laughed while the corrupt politicians did their little dance and tried to win sympathy points. After all, these politicians were previously put in power for decades to end violence, but instead they just stole and hired thugs to cover their tracks.

The Foreign News Media Embarrassingly Missed The Mark

First, let me say that there are no international news sources physically located here in El Salvador. There is very little, if any, resources here to spread the news to the outside world. El Salvador is simply too small for the big news hubs to consider this country relevant.

The news organizations in El Salvador are locally owned and financed by small private interests in El Salvador. By that, I mean “rich people with political interests“. And they don’t translate their news to English. Trust me, I wish they did.

The big name foreign news sources, such as: BBC, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, etc – they have no physical offices here. At least, none that I’ve found in my searches. So obviously, they must rely on local news sources to get the story when something big happens. See the problem? The local news sources are heavily biased with political interests and the foreign news sources are often desperate to cover the story, so they grasp at any information and photos that they can get.

Enter: the botched coverage of this story.

To my dismay, virtually all of the news sources went with the biased story, as if they didn’t do any research. Here are some of their cringeworthy headlines:

Notice how sensationalized these articles are? Yikes. They make it sound like we’re returning to the violent coup takeovers of banana republics in the 1970’s. And that’s exactly what the President’s opposition wanted.

The weird thing is that…none of this actually happened.

Armed forces never stormed parliament. There was no attempted coup. No Wild-West standoffs ever happened. There were no threats. There was no guns directed at anyone. There was hardly even anyone at the building. The news wrote headlines that were factually incorrect.

So, Let’s Summarize: The President is Fighting Crime & Corruption, and The News Media Are Supporting Whom?

The President is working hard to fight the worst types of crime: human trafficking, drug lords, corrupt politicians, disappearances. He’s putting himself on the line. The citizens here are putting themselves on the line too by actively supporting him in public.

While all of this is happening…the media chooses the wrong side.

By claiming that the president was “disrupting democracy” or “bullying congress” or even “attempting to take over the government”, the news media was literally indirectly supporting the efforts of the corrupt politicians and crime organizations without realizing it.

Something bizarre happened here. The desperate people of El Salvador are finally starting to win the war against violence and corruption. El Salvador is finally becoming a safer place. Yet somehow, the vast majority of the international news got the story completely wrong. The president has 95%+ support of the citizenry, he’s winning the battle against crime and the news is misleading readers worldwide. Ugg.

I’m going to assume that this was a big error on the news media’s part due to limited news sources here in El Salvador. They saw photos of soldiers in the Parliament building and probably thought “Let’s publish this fast!

How did so many news sources screw this up?

What I don’t understand is how so many professional international media sources could screw this up so bad. It really makes me question their professionalism. And their click-bait headlines are so disappointing.

The news media is doing the people of El Salvador a huge disservice by botching this story. The people of El Salvador are finally starting to live in a sense of normalcy, away from the recent past of living in fear. In these delicate times, the people of El Salvador deserve to have the news accurately covered.

Fortunately, the President has requested another vote

On February 16, 2020, another vote will happen. That day is only two days from today and I will update this article with the news.

It’s possible there will be an insurrection in El Salvador, but the hope is that the vote is successful and that the security plan to end violence will pass with ease. At least, that’s the hope of the vast majority of Salvadorans.

I’m starting to see things differently

There’s something going on in the world that’s disconcerting. The news doesn’t seem to be doing their job. Headlines are clickbait garbage. Events are poorly covered and investigated. Even if they screw up, such as in this case, they often let it fly because they have no accountability. Who’s going to sue them? The people of El Salvador?

Another thing I’m seeing is that foreign countries don’t give a damn about struggling countries. And I don’t expect them to care. Nobody expects them to care about families on the other side of the planet. However, why are they permitted to formulate a strong political opinion on something they don’t understand and be respected for those undeveloped opinions. Countries work differently. Conditions are very different. Cultures are different.

When I saw that some foreign politicians commented on this matter in El Salvador, I could see clearly that they only read the re-packaged stories that came right from the ass-end of El Salvador’s local media.

Their involvement often causes more harm than good. I can’t speak about the future of El Salvador, but I can say that these overseas news sources have at least temporarily hindered the progress towards overcoming gang violence and ending human trafficking. Shame on them for that. The people of El Salvador deserve better than the botched news articles they’re spreading.

About Chris

I’m a backpacker, a simple dude that fell in love with a Salvadoran girl three years ago. In 2018, I moved my life to El Salvador to be with my sweetheart. You can read more about me on my “About” page.

Please feel free to send me a message at any time.