Why You Should Care About El Salvador‘s New President



Let’s Start With the Basics


El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, also the most densely populated with a population of approximately 6.34 million. In 2008, there were roughly 1.1 million Salvadoran immigrants in the United States meaning every one in five Salvadorans lived in the States. These immigrants make up a part of the 30% of the underrepresented minority at VCU.

Members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang are guarded by policemen upon their arrival at the jail in Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, March 29, 2016.



For the last few decades, El Salvador has gone through some very big challenges such as civil war, hurricanes, volcano eruptions and severe issues of corruption within their government. After years political unrest, 2019’s presidential election brought some very surprising results to the country. Similar to the United States, El Salvador has been primarily ruled by the two dominant parties, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).


With the political atmosphere being so corrupt, both parties have been involved in guerrilla warfare and have had to struggle towards governmental control using weaponry. Since 1989, both ARENA and FMLN have had their candidates fight for the executive branch. Currently, FMLN’s candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, holds the President of the Republic of El Salvador Title.


2019 Elections


The 2019 Elections brought forth the presidential candidate, Nayib Bukele, of the independent (center-right) party, the Great Alliance for National Unity. Bukele has the experience of being the mayor of the country, San Salvador, and Nuevo Cuscatlán in both 2015 and 2012 respectively.

Fast Facts


  • Bukele is of Palestinian Descent, and began his first business when he was only 18.

  • Bukele was removed from the FMLN party back in 2017 for speaking out against their policies and ethical violations.

  • American politicians closely watch and even endorse political figures and events in El Salvador. Senator Marco Rubio has endorsed the ARENA party in the past.

  • Although El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, they are making some big deals and even created diplomatic relations with China in the past few years.

  • According to Marcos Aleman of Canadian Press, the 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States under temporary protected status, is only a fraction of the total amount of Salvadorans, estimated around two and a half million.


The Future


Bukele began his five-year term of the presidency on June 1, 2019, and is still spreading the policies that got him elected. His candidacy was supported by his beliefs which include:

  • Support of abortions if the mother’s life is in danger

    • This belief specifically made a huge impact on El Salvador, where currently all abortion is illegal. Anna-Cat Brigida for Aljazeera states that women have been sentenced for up to 30 years for crimes related to abortion after the country made abortion under all circumstances illegal in 1998.

  • Belief in no specific ideology

    • Bukele has differentiated himself from other parties and candidates by expressing to his country that he is not running with a specific agenda. This is another reason that ultimately led to his success in being elected because of the corrupt presidential leaders that held position before him. By breaking the bipartisan history of El Salvador’s government, he leads the country’s people with new hope for the future. 

  • The fight to end corruption and end gang violence

    • El Salvador is known as the deadliest country outside of war zone areas, due to the gang violence that has been around since before the civil war started in 1980. Therefore it is no surprise that gangs and corrupted officials keep close ties, but Bukele is fighting about this parasitic relationship.


Why You Should Care


  • The United States has already congratulated Nayib Bukele on the win, with the State Department spokesperson stating that they look forward to working with Bukele to “expand economic opportunity, strengthen democratic institutions and redouble efforts to make El Salvador safer and more prosperous for all Salvadorans.”

  • One out of every five Salvadorans live in the United States, and many are at risk of being deported every day. Although there are work visas and temporary protected status opportunities, Donald Trump has taken away many of these options. Luckily, courts have temporarily blocked this action, many families are terrified of what the future may bring.

  • El Salvador’s relationship with the rest of the world will continue to evolve, with more connections being made with other countries and the possible trade deals that will become available. It is of extreme importance to begin looking at El Salvador as a prominent developing country to bring business into.

  • Bukele is expected to lead a presidency that El Salvador has had no type of experience with, so what is to come of the relationship that will be held with the United States is still very much up in the air.

  • Although learning about a country that has a little daily impact on your life may seem trivial, there are hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans living among you, and knowing just a bit more about the culture can spark positive change.


Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Photo Credit 1, 2, 3