Things That Matter

Donald Trump And El Salvador’s New President Are Both Using Twitter To Fire People And Twitter Isn’t Sure How To Feel About

As Nayib Bukele waged an underdog bid for the presidency of El Salvador, savvy use of social media helped propel his rise.

Now, in his first week in office, some officials in the Central American country are reeling from the power of the presidential tweet.

Since taking office, El Salvador’s President has taken to Twitter to fire officials.

Credit: @Reuters / Twitter

The 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador, who was sworn in on Saturday, has taken some of his first actions in office via Twitter, including giving officials the ax.

His targets so far have included relatives of former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén and figures from the outgoing political party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

In one such tweet, the 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador said: “CEL president William Granadino is ordered to remove Claudia Sanchez Villalta, daughter of former president Sanchez Ceren, from her position. Do not hire a replacement.”

Mr Bukele, an avid social media user with more than 700,000 Twitter followers, has fired several other officials via tweet.

Credit: @nayibbukele / Twitter

Translation: The president orders @ANDAElSalvador @FredckBenitez to remove Manuel de Jesús Cornejo, the Father OF the FMLN’s deputy, Cristina Cornejo, from his position as head of the security unit, with a salary of 1.500 dollars per month.

Some of the dismissed responded with tweets such as: “Your order will be executed immediately, president @nayibbukele.”

While some of Mr. Bukele’s supporters have cheered the new form of presidential communication, his opponents on the right and the left described the practice as autocratic.

Norman Quijano, the right-wing president of the Salvadoran congress, told reporters: “This is not a monarchy.”

He added: “The absolutist monarchies were a thing of the Middle Ages and we are in the 21st century, where institutionality must be respected.”

The president isn’t just firing people though.

Credit: @nayibbukele / Twitter

As was the case of José Rafael Mena Castaneda, a talented student in architecture who, a few months ago, almost left school because of economic problems. His desire to continue studying led him to launch a project making full-scale cardboard buses.

When Bukele read his story in a local media, he “ordered” his presidential commissioner of strategic projects to give the young man a job interview.

Only a few hours later, he announced that José Rafael had been hired to modernize El Salvador’s schools.

Many on Twitter pointed out that just because the firings are being made public, doesn’t mean they should be celebrated as transparency.

Credit: @GeovannyVicentR / Twitter

Twitter users were taken by surprise and not all for the same reasons. Many see Bukele’s posts as signs of transparency and say they’re happy to see that the new president is taking action and doing something for El Salvador, a country that suffers from endemic violence, poverty and corruption.

Others are less amused. According to them, the “war” that Bukele is waging against the FMLN is an abuse of power — considering local media have revealed that the new government also employs several of Bukele’s relatives

Jaime García Oriani, El Salvador political analyst, believes Bukele could face other problems if he does not follow the legal process of dismissals the country has.

The president is also using Twitter to enact policies.

Credit: @GeovannyVicentR / Twitter

After tweeting demands at fellow government officials, most have responded immediately confirming they’ve completed his request.

Many took to Twitter to warn Salvadorians that this doesn’t always play out well.

Credit: @Reuters / Twitter

The obvious connection between El Salvador’s President use of Twitter and that of Donald Trump was lost on nobody.

It echoes the approach of U.S. President Donald Trump, who communicates to his Republican Party base daily via Twitter and has also fired some officials via tweet.

Trump, perhaps recognizing another Twitter fan, sent the following tweet on Saturday: “The United States stands ready to work with @NayibBukele to advance prosperity in El Salvador and the hemisphere. Congratulations President Bukele on your inauguration!”

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