Things That Matter

El Salvador’s New President Represents A Change In The Country’s Political System

nayibbukele / Instagram

After three decades of control by two political parties, the people of El Salvador have voted in a new politician to lead the country. Nayib Bukele, 37, won nearly 54 percent of the votes to become president of a country that has faced political corruption and rampant street violence. Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, ran on a platform to stop corruption and create job opportunities. Yet, it was his campaign as an alternative to the country’s two main political parties: the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), that made him standout.

Bukele is the first president of El Salvador since 1992 who doesn’t belong to either countries main parties.

Bukele is now leading the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), a small and new conservative political party in El Salvador. He outlasted Carlos Callejas of the ARENA party who got less than 32 percent of the national vote. Bukele started his political career with the FMLN party but was expelled in 2017 after repeatedly criticizing it. Just last year, he switched over to GANA, which is far-right compared to his start with the FMLN.

The country’s youngest-ever president-elect had an unconventional path to the office but it’s a reflection of what to expect when he takes office in June. Bukele ran his campaign almost entirely on social media and became quite popular due to his informal and relaxed image. He appeared in blue jeans and a leather jacket for his victory speech. He didn’t follow traditional campaign practices like having rallies around the country and even refused to participate in a traditional debate.

“Today we won in the first round and we made history,” Bukele told supporters at a celebratory rally. “We have turned the page on power.”

El Salvador has been plagued by poverty, scandals and rampant violence linked to gangs.

All presidential candidates ran on similar platforms that spoke of job growth and increasing safety measures across El Salvador. Yet, it was Bukele who set himself apart when it came to talking about the issue of widespread corruption in both opposing parties. Corruption has become a widespread issue across political systems in Latin America and even more prevalent in El Salvador.

Former President Tony Saca, representing ARENA, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty last year to charges of embezzlement and money laundering. Mauricio Funes, representing FMLN, fled to Nicaragua in 2016 after he was accused of embezzling $351 million. This past history made both parties easy targets for Bukele who often used campaign slogans like “There is enough money when nobody steals it.”

After El Salvador’s civil war ended in the 1990s, the country has faced economic hardships among other rampant issues that have caused many families to leave. It’s also a major reason that some Salvadorans have headed north to try and come to the United States looking for safety and jobs.

One of Bukele’s promises is to create a commission to investigate official corruption.

Being an outsider from the traditional two party system worked in his favor during his campaign but now comes the harsh reality for the president. GANA currently has only 10 seats in the legislature, well short of the 43 votes needed to pass laws. This could make his proposed investigation difficult.

One of his campaign promises is to adopt a similar version of the international anti-corruption commission that neighboring Guatemala implemented. Bukele will have to form an alliance with the right-wing parties, which currently dominate Congress with 49 house seats.

What does the election mean for El Salvador moving forward?

Similar to other recent Latin American countries elections, Bukele represents a new voice for a country that was tangled in a two-party system that it’s citizens couldn’t trust anymore. Two-party systems have fallen apart in countries like Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Honduras in the last two decades.

As populist leaders continue to get elected, Bukele’s victory is a reflection of the continuing decline of the traditional two-party system. His message of anti-corruptness and stopping violence made him a popular choice. The real challenge will be putting these promises in action especially in a country where change  is desperately needed.

“I feel like my heart could break open with happiness. He gives us a new hope for El Salvador,” Nancy Fajardo, who works in a call center told VICE News. “He has new ideas. And we need someone young who represents us and knows what we need.”


READ: What You Need To Know About The Growing Turmoil In Venezuela That Has Left At Least 40 People Dead

Share this story by tapping the share button below!

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

Things That Matter

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

@bbcstories / Twitter

There are rising tensions in El Salvador as activists are protesting the attorney general’s decision to seek a third trial for a woman accused of killing her stillborn son. The woman, Evelyn Hernandez, was exonerated in an August retrial after an earlier judgment found her guilty of killing her stillborn son and sentenced her to 30 years behind bars. Hernandez, 21, was found innocent after the judge said there was not enough evidence to convict her of the crime. 

The issue of abortion has always been a widely-debated and divisive topic in conservative El Salvador where abortion is illegal. Many women in the country have been prosecuted for attempting abortions even in dire medical situations. Activists look at Hernandez’s case as an example of an unjust system targeting her due to her limited financial status. 

 “We do not want Evelyn to be viewed as a criminal and persecuted,” Claribel Ayala, a protester outside the attorney general’s office in El Salvador told Reuters. “We’re going to stand with her until justice is done.”

While activists see Hernandez’s case as a trial against women rights, prosecutors are looking at her as a criminal.

Credit: @NARAL / Twitter 

Activists dressed in clown attire took to the streets of El Salvador this week to voice their disapproval of the news that attorney general Raul Melara would be seeking a third trial in Hernandez’s case. Many of them threw confetti-filled eggs at his office and even painted his door red with paint. Melara acknowledges their anger but sees the case with a different lens.  

“There are groups that have a big interest in seeing this as persecution against poverty, that this woman is being targeted because she had an emergency outside the hospital, but the proof is overwhelming and shows this isn’t the case,” Melara told reporters.

Hernandez’s release from prison was viewed as a victory for women rights. 

Credit: @karlazabs / Twitter

Hernandez said she was raped by a gang member and was unaware of her pregnancy until just before delivering a stillborn son back in 2016. She was found on her bathroom floor covered with blood and would be taken to an emergency room by her mother and a neighbor. When doctors examined her they noted that there were visible signs of delivery but found no baby. They reported Hernandez to local authorities and would later find her newborn dead inside of a septic tank.

She’s been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the alleged killing of her child. Prosecutors said that she had purposely induced abortion only to leave the newborn to die. Hernandez wound up only serving 33 months out of her original 30-year sentence before being released in February. 

This was due to an appeal before the Supreme Court who said that Hernandez should be released due the original conviction being based on prejudice and insufficient evidence. The acquittal was looked at as a huge victory for women’s rights not only in El Salvador but globally. 

“It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent,” Hernandez said the day she was released. “There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.”

Hernandez has maintained her innocence from the start that she had no knowledge of being pregnant. Now prosecutors are looking at a third trial to convict her of killing her newborn child. 

Credit: @marlasirens / Twitter

The attorney general is seeking to convict Hernandez of murder even after being released from prison. While many see Hernandez as the true victim in this ordeal, prosecutors see things differently.  

“As Attorney General of the Republic, we are responsible for the support and accompaniment of women victims in any crime and in any of its modalities, but, in the case of Evelyn Hernández, there are no elements to consider her a victim of any fact, on the contrary, the only victim is her son,” prosecutors said in a statement . “This appeal is the manifestation of the legal protection of … the life of a helpless being who depended absolutely on the care of his mother, who caused his death.”

Hernandez’s legal team is fighting back against these claims saying that the attempt at a retrial is a waste of resources that could be used to serve more important issues. 

“We expected this persecution against Evelyn to stop,” one of her lawyers, Elizabeth Deras, told BuzzFeed News. “Instead, they are spending the state’s resources unnecessarily. Resources that could be used to fight corruption.”

As of now, the request for a new trial must be assessed by a different court before it can proceed legally. The prosecution is looking to sentence Hernandez to 40 years in prison.  

READ: These Are Our Favorite Fast Foods You Can Get In Latin America But Not In The US, Dos Por Favor!

The 13 Most Terrifying Serial Killers That You’ve Never Heard Of In The US

Things That Matter

The 13 Most Terrifying Serial Killers That You’ve Never Heard Of In The US

EvaRisto SA / Getty

While the United States has more serial killers than any other nation, some of the most brutal murderers the world has ever seen came from the Southern Hemisphere. They’ve left hundreds of bodies of children, women and men in their wake, along the way earning grim nicknames like “monster,” “beast,” and “sadist” as the public grappled with their repulsive crimes.

Some of these killers targeted poor, indigenous women and children who lived on the margins of society, police making a horrifying situation even worse by failing to properly investigate the deaths of the victims. While citizens were outraged by the grisly crimes, many of the country’s judicial systems were not structured in a way to handle such gruesome acts, with maximum sentences that did not come close to letting the punishment fit the crime – like a child murderer who went free after just 14 years. 

Mexico: The Poquianchis

Credit: GrupoPeru.com

The “Poquianchis” was the alias given to a group of female serial killers who were guilty of killing hundreds of prostitutes between 1945 and 1964 in Guanajuato, Mexico. The four sisters: Delfina González Valenzuela, María de Jesús, María del Carmen, and María Luisa, owned several brothels in the region, and killed over 150 people – mostly sex workers, their children, and some of their clients.

They are known as the most prolific serial killers in Mexican history.

Mexico: La Mataviejitas

Credit: Grupo de Peritos Profesionales / YouTube

Juana Barraza was a Mexican pro wrestler. What she did after she hung up her mask is terrifying. You’ve heard plenty of La Llorona and El Cucuy stories over the years, but the story of La Mataviejitas is just as scary – and it’s real.

Barazza’s victims were all women who were 60 years old or older. She would gain their trust by helping them with groceries or posing as a nurse. 

Why’d she do it? Barraza says it was her way of releasing pent up anger. She says she was full of anger after her alcoholic mother beat her and would give her away to men when she was only 12.

Colombia: The Beast

Credit: DiarioVasco.com

Luis Garavito definitely earned his nickname “the Beast,” although few beasts would be capable of his atrocities. Garavito admitted to the murder and rape of 140 young boys, but his toll may be closer to 300 victims.

Over a brutal five-year period, from 1994 to 1999, Garavito used food, gifts and cash to lure his young victims, most between the ages of eight and 16. He would occasionally dress as a monk or street vendor to make the children feel safe as he lured them away from their homes and parents. Once he had them in a secluded spot, he would sexually assault them, often torturing them before slitting their throats and dismembering their small bodies.

Colombia: The Sadist of El Charquito

Daniel Camargo Barbosa raped, murdered and dismembered over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador. He earned the name of “The Sadist of El Charquito” for the brutal treatment of his victims, hacking them to pieces with a machete. While Camargo was suspected in the deaths of 80 women and girls, he was eventually arrested in Colombia for the rape and murder of a nine-year old girl. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

He managed to escape from the island prison where he was held, though, making his way through shark-infested water to Ecuador, where he continued his gruesome crimes, raping and killing at least 70 more victims.

Mexico: The Great Blood Sorceress

Magdalena Solís was: a serial killer, a religious fanatic, a leader of a sect, a sex criminal… and responsible for 8 confirmed murders. She killed any dissidents to her faith through sacrifices in which victims were brutally beaten and mutilated. Afterwards, she removed her victims’ hearts and drank their blood.

Some claim that Magdalena was the reincarnation of an Aztec goddess Coatlicue.

Mexico: The Monsters of Ecatepec 

In 2018, Juan Carlos admitted to killing more than 20 women in the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec in a crime spree shocked the country. His wife, Patricia, has also told police her job was to trick his victims into accompanying her to their “House of Horrors” after luring them with cheap clothes to sell, say prosecutors. 

Once inside the house, Juan Carlos would slit their throats, have sex with the corpses, remove the heart and feed it to his dogs. 

Many of his victims were young mothers, and the couple have admitted to selling a two-month-old baby, after killing its mother. The husband and wife team were later arrested pushing the tot’s pram, but instead of finding the baby the found body parts.

Juan Carlos has also reportedly told a police doctor that he will kill again if he is ever freed.

Argentina: Angel of Death

In a stretch of just 11 months starting in March, 1971, Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch committed a string of armed robberies, raped two women, assaulted several women and killed 11 people, becoming Argentina’s most prolific serial killer.

While he occasionally worked with an accomplice, at least one of whom died under suspicious circumstances, Robledo Puch never fit the profile of a killer. He was young, attractive, intelligent and from a wealthy family, but he turned his back on his privileged life.

Colombia: The Monster of the Andes

Known as “The Monster of the Andes,” Pedro López was convicted of raping and killing 110 women, but that horrifying body count is just the beginning of his gruesome crimes. López is suspected in the deaths of more than 300 women and girls, sometimes killing two or three a week, as he traveled across South America from Peru to Ecuador to his native Colombia. López showed his predilections earlier in life and was kicked out of his home for molesting his sister.

According to the Sword and Scale podcast, López was almost put to death by tribal leaders in Peru in 1978, but a missionary saved his life and he headed to Colombia where his crime spree continued. He was eventually captured in Ecuador when the bodies of four young girls were discovered.

He was sent to jail for the maximum allowed by Ecuadorian law at the time – just 16 years – but he was freed after 14 for good behavior. His whereabouts are currently unknown. 

Brazil: Gomes da Rocha

Credit: EvaRisto SA / Getty

Over the course of four years, Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha killed 39 people. Gomes da Rocha worked as a security guard in Goiania, a small city in central Brazil. In his off hours he rode the streets of the city on his motorbike robbing shops, pharmacies and lottery outlets. He would pretend to mug people, shouting “robbery” at them before simply shooting them dead instead. Gomes da Rocha targeted women and sex workers –  his victims included a 14-year old girl, young women, homeless people, prostitutes, and transvestites.

Peru: The Apostle of Death

God spoke to Pedro Pablo Nakada Ludeña and told him to rid the earth of prostitutes, drug addicts, homosexuals and the homeless – or that’s the justification he used to murder at least 17 people in Peru.

Known as “The Apostle of Death,” Ludeña walked the streets of Lima with a 9 mm gun equipped with a homemade silencer and killed those he felt deserved it, like a 50-year-old woman smoking pot that he passed on the street or a 42-year-old cosmetologist who may have been gay. Police eventually tracked down the “apostle” in 2006, engaging in a shoot-out with him before he was finally captured.

Bolivia: The Killer Actor

Ramiro Artieda was a sex criminal who was responsible for the murder of at least 8 18-year old women between 1937 and 1939, all of whom bared an uncanny resemblance to one another. Ramiro studied drama in the United States, where he learned the techniques that he’d use to help lure his victims. Some of the characters he created to commit his crimes included a film producer, a monk, and a professor. Using these disguises, he took women to secluded areas where he’d sexually abuse and then strangle them.

When he was captured by the authorities, the killer confessed that his intention was to kill any young women that he felt looked like an ex-girlfriend who had dumped him. He was sentenced to death on July 3, 1939.

Brazil: Pedrinho Matador

One of Brazil’s most infamous – and prolific – serial killers was responsible for at least 70 murders, slaying his first victim at at the age of 14. Pedro Rodrigues Filho, also known as “Pedrinho Matador” or Killer Petey. Even before he was born, Filho’s life was not easy – his father beat his pregnant mother so badly, Filho was born with a deformed skull.

He is believed to have killed 10 people by his 18th birthday, including the vice-mayor of his town after he fired his father. When Filho’s father murdered his mother, Filho exacted his revenge, killing the man, cutting out his heart and eating it. Filho was finally captured in 2003. He was convicted of murdering at least 70 people, but going to jail did not stop his crime spree – he murdered at least 40 inmates while he was in prison.

Argentina: The Argentine Vampire

Florencio was a sex criminal suffering from mental illness who, in the 1950s, suffered a delirium that made him believe he was a vampire. This belief lead him to kill 15 women by biting out their jugular veins, and he claimed that drinking blood gave him orgasms. He’d kill his victims by first following them home and then he’d break in through a window when they were alone.

He was caught in February 1960 at the age of 25 while living in a dark cave, since he suffered photophobia. He died a year later in a mental institution.