Sunday, February 3rd, voters in El Salvador went to elect a new President as voter dissatisfaction has surged in the violence-ridden country with a corrupt failing two-party duopoly. Voters delivered a devastating rebuke to the duopoly as the right-wing ARENA Party received 31.72% of the vote, and the left wing FMLN saw its share at only 14.41%. Outsider and former San Salvador Mayor Nayib Bukele won the election with 53%, avoiding the need for a runoff.
Many questions come to mind about President-Elect Bukele both within El Salvador but also the region and particularly the US. How does he plan to tackle the crisis of gang violence and drug dealing? How does he seek to make El Salvador a place where people want to return to as 25% live in the US? Where does he stand on foreign policy issues? How does he plan to improve the living standards in the troubled country? That and many more questions will have to start to be answered on June 1st when he is sworn in.
Nayib Bukele, 37, first was elected mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán from the left wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in 2012 and then he stood down in 2015 where he ran for mayor of San Salvador. Upon his election, he would soon distance himself from the party in his policies, and then he would leave the party altogether, similar to Democrats leaving their party in America’s #WalkAway movement. In his time as San Salvador, public infrastructure visibly improved tremendously though like in the rest of the country crime has continued to be a devastating issue.
In his campaign for President, he went straight to the people instead of using traditional media and traditional debate stages as he mastered the use of social media and he gathered strong crowds to his rallies.
Bukele aggressively campaigned against the corrupt old guard establishment and centered the campaign on tackling corruption making very substantive proposals on how to do it.
Bukele has stated he will set up an international anti-corruption commission where the country’s Attorney General will be able to prosecute many more cases of corruption. A similar mission delivered devastating consequences to the corrupt elites in Guatemala where the former President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti were convicted and arrested for corruption charges in April 2015. At his victory speech, he appeared with the former Attorney General of Guatemala who brought those corrupt leaders down.
The President-elect understands that the government can’t just focus on tackling crime through waging war against the gangs, but also there must be on the other end in civilized society opportunities for people to make a good living, and to make El Salvador a country for companies to invest in.
China’s debt trap diplomacy has left policymakers in emerging markets wearier than ever as they see what has happened in Sri Lanka. According to an aide to the President-elect Federico Aniker, said that the new government would investigate why the previous government severed relations with Taiwan and established ties with China. Skepticism was rampant in the country as to just what they would get in return for cutting ties with Taiwan and building them with China.
Nayib Bukele has expressed full support for the Interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó refusing to support any totalitarian regime which brutally represses its people. He also is very consistent on opposing true despots in the region as he is vocally against the corrupt narcoterrorist regime in Tegucigalpa led by Juan Orlando Hernandez who won a fraud-filled election in 2017. For the American people having someone in power in San Salvador who dares to take a stand against a regime which routinely trafficks drugs into the US, and has caused so many Hondurans to flee every single American should support it.
The new President-elect seeks to modernize and change the national education system to where it better prepares students for going into the private sector as well as putting a focus on health and physical fitness for students in school.
Under the proposed Dalton Project the government will use the embassies and consulates to get over 20,000 scholarships for undergraduate students to be able to study abroad to further expand in their skills as they seek to get a job afterward.
The government in waiting has a very ambitious agenda for the development of the long-neglected Pacific Coastal region of the country. The proposal details,
5- PACIFIC STRIPS
The country has turned its back on the largest territory it has: the ocean. El Salvador has almost 6 times its territory in maritime space; For this reason, a project for the integral development, locally and regionally, of the Coastal Marine Belt is indispensable.
This flagship proposal will begin in the department of La Unión and will be segmented in a strategic and territorial manner:
· Fishing and logistics.
· Aerial, maritime and terrestrial infrastructure.
· Tourism, education, research and production.
Below we detail the proposed badges that will give impetus to the social and economic development of the southern zone of El Salvador:
A. Project 4A
As part of the rescue and modernization of the Port of Acajutla, it is proposed to quadruple its total scope. This will boost their load capacity and logistics.
This will also benefit tourism, fishing and mobility for the western part of the country. This will stimulate gastronomy, tourism in volcanoes, colonial towns, archaeological centers and in the mountains; Coffee will be rescued and the hotel services industry will be promoted.
B. Train of the Pacific
The systems of physical mobility and transport are a vital axis in the dynamization of economic activity and sustainable development for any country, but it also has a direct relationship with the quality of life of citizens. El Salvador, however, has one of the most obsolete public transport systems in the world, since it does not have the road infrastructure, regulations and technology necessary to face the growing demand for the current demographic increase.
El Salvador had a history very linked to the train, which entered in 1882, for 1974 the Autonomous Port Executive Commission (CEPA) was established, an instance that administered the 521 kilometers of railroads until 2002, the year in which the train stopped working, in 2015 the Railway Museum was founded, officially giving the train for dead.
It is proposed to rescue this means of transport, with the Train of the Pacific, which will have as a first stage to start in the city of La Union and cross the entire country to the Port of Acajutla. It will have two modalities: to transport cargo, merchandise and other products, and to transport passengers. This will lead to economic development, will involve the generation of jobs, direct and indirect, and will alleviate the vehicular crisis.
This project also has great regional potential, since it will become a long-term connection to other countries in the Central American region, taking advantage of our location, in this way there will be direct connections to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. This would be used to establish a dry canal to move supplies and goods between the Pacific coast and the Atlantic coast of Central America.
C. Pacific Airport
The Pacific International Airport should be channeled as a nation project that will energize the eastern region of the country; encouraging the growing demand of passengers abroad, tourist development, activation of the Port of La Union and creation of the Eastern Free Zone.
Actions that together will generate thousands of sources of employment and great socioeconomic development for the region, returning to position it as a fundamental pillar for the national economy.
The development of the Pacific International Airport will place the country as the pioneer of the region in the construction of the FIRST GREEN AIRPORT; which will unify the National Airport Network, will complement the multimodal cargo handling with the Central American Union Port and will promote the development of the Eastern Free Zone, commerce, industry, agriculture, hotels, ecotourism, archaeological tourism, among others.
✓ Develop a National Airport Plan competitive with the region in passenger traffic, cargo handling and environmental responsibility.
✓ Increase air traffic between airports, through new transport routes to the eastern zone, benefiting thousands of brothers living abroad and generating new sources of employment in new air operations.
✓ Detonate the potential of the eastern zone and position it again as a fundamental pillar of the national economy.
✓ Promote a project of inclusion, social responsibility and local development, in which all the fraternal peoples can be participants and have a say in the decisions of the new airport and its development zones.
✓ Exploit the hotel, ecotourism, archeology, gastronomy and sports development that the eastern region offers.
✓ Strengthen national security through technological equipment for air navigation and eliminating drug trafficking
Potential development in the eastern zone:
o Roads Network: Carretera Litoral (CA-2) in good conditions, facilitating accessibility and connection times.
o Port Development: The only port in the country with a vocation for Post-Panamax containers and ships
o Tourist Development: High potential for ecotourism development, with reef banks for sports diving, surfing, sailing and boat trips to the islands.
o Eastern Free Zone: Border to Honduras and Nicaragua, has a high value in connectivity for export and import of heavy industry (PLU) and light industry in areas of technology, pharmaceuticals and textiles (Airport).
o Projected Passenger Traffic
or 2021: 330,000 annual passengers.
or 2045: 1.1 million annual passengers.
o Estimated annual rate: 5% (Aeronautical Industry).
The proposals are very promising as they reject extreme neoliberal globalism and emphatically rejects the catastrophes of the left. An independent anti-corruption path forward against the corrupt forces that have destroyed El Salvador and caused 25% of the country to leave shows promise. Every American should hope for President-elect Nayib Bukele’s success.