Things That Matter

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

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

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Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Entertainment

Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Pokémon fans in Latin America are mourning the death of Diana Pérez, the Spanish-language voice of Jessie of Pokémon’s Team Rocket. The voice actress has been voicing the character since 1997.

Diana Pérez, the voice actress of Team Rocket’s Jessie, died at 51.

Lalo Garza, a famed voice actor in Mexico, confirmed the death of the Pokémon voice actress.

“Rest in peace Diana Pérez, a strong, cultured, intelligent, and very talented woman. You are good now, friend. Nothing hurts anymore. Have a good trip,” reads the tweet.

Pérez has been a staple in the Spanish-language Pokémon fandom for decades.

Pérez was more than just he voice of Jessie. The voice actress was the voice of multiple anime characters including Luffy in One Piece and Kagura in Inuyasha. In recent years, Pérez had started branching out to directing, producing, and other branches in the entertainment industry.

Pérez’s death is being mourned by Pokémon fans outside of the Spanish-language fandom.

Sarah Natochenny is the English voice of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon series, Jessie’s mortal enemy. The death of Pérez has impacted the larger Pokémon community. Pérez was a pivotal part of the Latin American Pokémon community for decades and her loss has devastated fans.

Descansa en paz, Diana.

There have been no plans announced for a replacement to voice Team Rocket’s Jessie. No official cause of death has been released either. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Pérez’s family and the greater Pokémon community mourning her passing.

READ: I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out This Mexican Pokémon

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Congresswoman Norma Torres Is In A Twitter Feud With El Salvador’s President And Neither One Is Backing Down

Things That Matter

Congresswoman Norma Torres Is In A Twitter Feud With El Salvador’s President And Neither One Is Backing Down

Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) has been one of the most outspoken critics on the root causes of migration to the United States, calling out corruption and neglect from Central American nations.

The Guatemala-born Congresswoman said the issue stemmed from failing to address the root causes of immigration in the Northern Triangle. While she claimed that the Obama administration made strides in Central American intervention (years later, it has little to show for), she did address the many reasons why people from the region made the difficult decision to leave their countries. 

“The poverty we see here in our own communities, you know, in comparison to the poverty that has been caused by climate change issues, severe droughts in the region, the fact that there is no infrastructure for the indigenous populations,” Torres told NPR in 2019

She continues to lay blame on those same nations and she’s making some apparent enemies in the process, including El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele who has been engaged in a bit of a Twitter feud with the congresswoman.

The California congresswoman is feeling the heat from El Salvador’s president.

President Nayib Bukele and Democratic Rep. Norma Torres have been exchanging very undiplomatic barbs on Twitter for the last few weeks. And now, El Salvador’s president is urging voters in a California congressional district to vote out its U.S. representative in the latest back-and-forth spat between the Central American head of state and one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the region’s leaders.

Torres, who was born in Guatemala, took the first show when she retweeted a disturbing video released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection showing two toddler sisters being dropped into the U.S. by smugglers straddling a 14-foot-tall border wall. The two were picked up by U.S. agents and given medical attention.

Along with a link to the video, Torres tweeted — in Spanish — that the incident is “a great shame for the governments of #Guatemala #Honduras #ElSalvador their compatriots deserve governments that are truly committed to fighting corruption and narco[trafficking]!”

Well, her tweet didn’t sit well with the president.

El Salvador’s Bukele, an avid Twitter user, hit back fast with his own Spanish-language tweet. “Look ma’am, did you read that the children are from ECUADOR and not from EL SALVADOR? Also, this happened on the border of Mexico with the United States. What does El Salvador have to do with this?”

The Salvadoran president then told Torres that she should buy some glasses with a portion of her “financier’s checks.”

But Bukele, at 39 the youngest president in Latin America, is extremely popular. He is often seen wearing a backward baseball cap and sports clothes, and his Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas) party won big in last month’s legislative elections, taking control of the national legislature.

Torres, one of Bukele’s leading critics, kept up the tweet for tweet — this time in English — calling the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border the result of “narcissistic dictators like you interested in being ‘cool’ while people flee by the 1000s & die by the 100s.”

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