Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The man who transformed El Salvador from one of the most dangerous countries in the world to one of the safest, President Nayib Bukele, is despised by liberals.

When he won reelection in a landslide, liberal media outlets ran headlines stating that democracy had ended in El Salvador and that the country had become a one-party state. However, El Salvador is not Cuba.

Bukele did not eradicate opposition parties, nor did he imprison them or seize control of the press. Instead, he delivered on his promises. He made the country safe by locking up criminals.

President Bukele claimed that his country went 365 days without a murder. And while the exact number has been called into question, it is an indisputable fact that the country now has the lowest murder rate it has seen in 30 years, plummeting by 70%, and now stands at only 2.4 per 100,000 in 2023, making it the second lowest in the Americas, just behind Canada.

In 2022, after a gang war resulted in the deaths of 87 people over a period of just three days, Bukele took action against crime. He constructed the country’s largest prison, the Terrorism Confinement Center (Centro de Confinamiento del Terrorismo or CECOT), with a capacity for 40,000 gang members. And he began filling it.

Out of gratitude for restoring peace in the country, voters reelected him with 85% of the vote. Human rights groups, who live in safe, wealthy Western nations, have criticized Bukele for violations of the rights of suspects.

But the logic is flawless. Only gang members have gang tattoos. If anyone else gets a gang tattoo, they will be killed by the gang. The same is true for tattoo artists.

They would be killed for giving gang tattoos to non-gang members. Additionally, part of the initiation to joining a gang is to commit a serious crime, often murder. Once they become a member, their full-time job is to commit crimes. So, logically, anyone with a gang tattoo is a gang member and has committed crimes.

In the U.S., it is not a crime to be affiliated with an organization, even a criminal one. To secure a conviction, there would need to be proof that the person committed a specific crime.

However, that system, while acceptable for a high-trust society, was being exploited in El Salvador, where repeat offenders and murderers were being set free by crooked judges and jailers.

So, Bukele decided to let logic prevail, arrest the gang members, and put them in prison. He was more concerned about the rights of street vendors, business owners, school children, working people, and ordinary citizens than he was about the rights of violent criminals.

The state of emergency he declared in 2022, and has renewed several times since, suspends the constitutional rights of the gang members and bypasses the corrupt courts and justice system, which had allowed the criminals to reign for decades. Since then, 75,000 gang members have been arrested, and 7,000 have been released.

According to reported data from human rights groups, since 2022, there have been 78,000 arbitrary detentions. This is likely because they consider nearly all of the arrests to be arbitrary detentions.

The rights groups are also upset that “approximately 102,000 people are now deprived of their freedom in the country,” disregarding the fact that these people are criminals.

Additionally, they are upset that the prisons are overcrowded by 148%, which is absolutely true. The prisons are not pleasant, and a sane person would avoid going there by not committing crimes.

They also lost sleep over 235 deaths in state custody. There is no mention of how many of these deaths represented prisoners being killed by other prisoners, nor have they stopped to consider that five times that number of innocent people would have died during the same time period if these gang members were not in prison.

Rights groups have claimed that Bukele’s New Ideas party winning 58 of 60 seats in the country’s legislature has turned the country into a one-party state, with a “dangerous” concentration of power.

They are missing the point that the country had a fair election and the people were free to vote for the horrible system they had before, or law and order, which is now making their lives livable again. And they chose the latter.

According to Gabriela Santos, director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America (IDHUCA), “Bukele’s popularity underlines how some Central American countries have struggled to launch sustainable democratic models.”

Again, there appears to be no flaw in El Salvador’s democracy. The critics just do not like the way the vote turned out. Santos went on to say that countries never recovered their democratic principles “in the aftermath of civil conflicts between left-wing guerrillas and U.S.-backed right-wing authoritarian regimes.”

There is no indication that the people voting for Bukele had any connection to the US or to right-wing regimes.

Liberals are claiming that there is a frightening move toward fascism in Latin America because 2 of 32 countries now have a president who is not a socialist. The other bright spot is President Javier Milei in Argentina, whom the liberals also hate.

He is cutting the government down to size, waging a war on debt and waste. He told school children that abortion is murder. He is pro-gun and is considering deploying the military to take on the gangs.

The shocking lesson we can all learn from El Salvador is that if you arrest all of the bad guys and keep them in jail, and if those who remain free are made to believe that crime has consequences and jails are horrible places, the streets become safer, and people can live their lives.

The other takeaway here is that if a president is tough on crime and wants to cut government spending and improve the lives of citizens, the liberals attack him.

It is also incredibly condescending that liberals in Europe or the US or elsewhere believe that 85% of Salvadorians do not know what is best for their country and voted for the wrong person.



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