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Opinion: Bukele's Deja vu: Bukelismo Increasingly Resembles Chavismo

The government of the Salvadoran president seems to be the repetition of how Hugo Chávez arrived and captured power in Venezuela.

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador

The problem will come when the Salvadoran people get tired of Nayib Bukele and can no longer get him out. Photo: IG-Nayibbukele, LatinAmerican Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: El Deja vu de Bukele: el bukelismo se parece cada vez más al chavismo

Last week I read the headlines: the ruling party changes a third of the country's prosecutors; Supreme Court allows re-election of the president; from today Bitcoin is the official currency in the country. For a moment I felt that I was reading the history of Chavismo in Venezuela, but evidently, it was a small compilation of the news from El Salvador and its charismatic president: Nayib Bukele.

In the book "How Democracies Die" by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, they explain that today democracies are not at risk from coups. The events that occurred in Guinea-Conakry last weekend are increasingly abnormal. On the contrary, democratic models are increasingly vulnerable to the election of authoritarian figures by popular vote. Figures like Fujimori are increasingly common in the region and different from those of Pinochet and his military intervention. This is precisely something that could fit the Salvadoran president and the beginning of authoritarian models in the region, such as the Venezuelan.

It is that, despite the fact that both political movements are distant in their speeches, the truth is that they are similar in their procedures. Both Bukele and Chávez came to power with great popular support; both presidents maintained high acceptance rates and where the elected leaders to save each country.

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The problem was that little by little, Chavismo was taking over (democratically) all the institutions of power in Venezuela. There was no separation of powers. The National Assembly, the Courts, the Prosecutor's Office, the Attorney General's Office, the Media, and the Electoral Council passed into the hands of the ruling party.

Exactly the same we are seeing in the Central American country. Today, bukelism in just 3 years has elected Attorney General, magistrates of the high courts, controls the majority of parliament and so far it is the beginning. Obviously, with popular support, the people trust the decisions made by Buekele, but they are concentrating all the powers of the state in one person.

But this is not the only thing, neither Buekele nor Chávez were friends of the press. And this not only marks a parallel with the Venezuelan regime. There were also clashes between the critical press and the governments of Correa, Ortega, Uribe, etc. It is clear that the media are usually critical (sometimes for their own interests) with governments, but what is rare to see in a democratic society is the confrontation and little tolerance for criticism they may have, even knowing that they have the right to do so. the vast majority of support.

Likewise, the witch hunt in the traditional political parties is also practice similar to the one used in the beginning by Chávez. If it is true that Bukele has not yet initiated the political persecution of figures critical of him or the imprisonment of rivals such as in Venezuela or Nicaragua, no dictatorship elected by popular vote showed its teeth in the first years. And from now on, the stigmatization that the Salvadoran president has used is harshly criticized by the international community.

Today, Bukele and Maduro cannot be seen in paint. The ideological differences are obvious. The "millennial" president is a faithful friend and associate of Washington. Regardless of whether it is with Trump or Biden, El Salvador finds a strategic ally in the northern country. For their part, both Trump and Biden maintain harsh sanctions on the Venezuelan regime.

It is that even in the intention to innovate in the cryptocurrency market there is a mirror. Not many years ago, Nicolás Maduro launched the Petro, the Venezuelan virtual cryptocurrency that sought to solve the hyperinflation of an economy that led to ruin at the hands of a corrupt, inefficient, and incapable government. Well, this weekend, El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as its official currency.

And well, many will say (for example my mother) that as long as Bukele does it well, there is no problem. And if. It is true that as long as a government generates positive economic and social results, most people do not look down on attacks on the opposition or the increase in the power of the leader. But that is what they thought in Venezuela, let us remember that Chavismo arrived and remained in power by dint of the popular vote generated by its welfare policies financed by the high price of oil. However, what will happen when the government is not as efficient and supported by the people. In Venezuela, they have been trying for decades to change the political system they chose, but the control of the control bodies, the Military Forces, the electoral body, etc. it has made it almost impossible to remove him democratically. This is the same problem that Salvadorans may face in the future.