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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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said You Want To Travel

Culture

In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said You Want To Travel

Covid put a stop to our travel plans for 2020. After almost a year in lockdown, we have had time to plan fantasy trips and explore the world. We asked you where you wanted to visit and here are some of the places you all can’t wait to see.

Argentina

Argentina offers something for everyone. As on of the southernmost countries in the world, Argentina offers natural sights that will make nature lovers swoon. Into architecture? Cities like Mendoza offers a look at the art-deco style that will make you feel like you are back in time. Don’t forget to try to make a trip down to Ushuaia, the End of the World for a spectacular view.

Cuba

Cuba is a tricky one but a beautiful place to see. The country is filled with old buildings and cars that make it feel like a time capsule. Now, the island is old because they are oppressed and don’t have much. But you can always find ways to make sure that you help people of the island instead of giving the money to government approved businesses.

Costa Rica

This is about as wild and wondrous as it gets. Costa Rica will give everyone a chance to really be one with nature. The Central American country is a rainforest oasis with nature everywhere you look. The country prides itself on how development is not encroaching on nature and has even outlawed zoos and aquariums.

Honduras

Honduras is an underestimated place to visit. The food and people are warm and inviting. There has been some unrest in the country in recent years and a series of hurricanes has devastated the population. Tourism is a great way to bring money into a place the needs it. Just don’t take advantage of them while you are there.

Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with wonders new and old. You can experience the ruins of some of the oldest civilizations and bask in the modernity of Mexico City. The food is as diverse and vibrant as the people with delicious moles in Oaxaca and experimental fusions in Mexico City. Valle de Guadalupe is home to some farm to table restaurants and exquisite wineries. It truly is a journey of the sense if you take time to see the country.

Colombia

Colombia is one of South America’s gems. After years of internal conflict, the nation is growing and quickly becoming a destination. Bogotá and Medellín are great but make it a point to visit Cali. The city is one of the place everyone should visit if they make their way to Colombia.

READ: Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

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