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The Bukelization of Mexico: The Influence of Nayib Bukele

Ricardo Anaya, one of the highest representatives of the right in Mexico, has launched some solutions against insecurity that were similar to those implemented by Nayib Bukele in El Salvador .

Nayib Bukele

Photo: FB-Nayib Bukele

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez

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Leer en español: La Bukelización de México: la influencia de Nayib Bukele

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has become popular in recent months after declaring a state of emergency on March 27 that has already been extended up to four times, with which he seeks to counteract and, if possible, put an end to the gangs that, according to the Government, are the main causes of violence in his country.

So far, it seems to be succeeding. According to a publication made by the Salvadoran president on his Twitter account, on September 11, the D-Day of his strategy was reached with "0 homicides."

“While some congressmen from another country want us to return to the past of death and destruction that El Salvador experienced. We continue to show that, without them, we are much better off," Bukele added in his message.

For its part, the Ministry of Security reported on the same social network that there are already "52,549 terrorists captured", assuring that the war against the gangs will continue. "And we continue to completely clean our country and eradicate any criminal structure that threatens the safety of good Salvadorans," added the entity.

Does Mexico need a Bukele?

As expected, these numbers (disregarded by many experts taking into account the difficulties present by actors outside the Government to verify the data), have increased Bukele's popularity in Latin America. 

An example of this is the message that the former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya has assumed in Mexico, who, in line with the conservative thinking of the National Action Party (PAN), of which he is a member,  has criticized AMLO and his campaign against violence in that country.

It should be remembered that from the beginning of his government, the left-wing president expressed the importance of establishing a defense strategy known as "Hugs, not bullets", with which he promised to guarantee peace and tranquility among the people. 

However, by April of this year, the majority of Mexicans agreed not to look favorably on this initiative, assuring that the violence has not only not stopped, but on the contrary, it is increasing more and more.

"In March 2022, 66.2% of the population aged 18 and over considered that it is unsafe to live in their city," said the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (Inegi).

Faced with this reality, Anaya did not hesitate to record himself and show his rejection of Amlo's security policies. In his weekly video column, the right-wing politician assured that organized crime has already "sized up" the Mexican Executive on account of the land ceded in recent years.

“What happens when you give in to blackmail, to a threat? Just see what they already dare to do to the soldiers of the Army (…) Every time there is an operation they block streets, burn trucks, threaten to kill people, ”said Ricardo Anaya.

Now, after this statement, the PAN leader showed all his 'bukelism' by throwing out some ideas that, for him, would be essential to guarantee the security of the Mexican people and that are directly related to the approach that Nayib Bukele has been using in El Salvador. .

To begin with, as Bukele said at a key moment in the anti-gang fight, Anaya assured that it is time to take Mexican law seriously, and move from using words like "hugs and bullets" to "respect for authority."

“It doesn't work like that, it's not about choosing between embracing criminals or having to live between bullets. In other words, the way out of this mistaken approach is the rule of law and the application of the law,” Ricardo Anaya asserted.

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Of course, the application of that law also falls on practices that Bukele himself has used in El Salvador: violent takeovers of neighborhoods or areas dominated by gang members, mass incarceration, and other strategies that, as Anaya himself indicated, represent the total use of the legitimate force of the State in favor of national security.

In that order of ideas, what the Mexican politician proposes, emulating the southern country, is that the entities in charge of national defense begin to carry out conscientious and effective investigations that lead to the whereabouts of organized crime groups, to then carry out targeted operations and catch all criminals, not just their leaders.

This project is clearly explained in the actions currently used by the Salvadoran Public Force, entering the most dangerous areas of the country, investigating its inhabitants, and identifying current or former members of the Maras Salvatruchas through tattoos or other marks.

However, a similarity has also been found in one of the objectives set by Bukele and Anaya, in relation to the finances of criminal gangs; albeit with some differences. While Anaya only mentioned that intelligence activities are necessary to dismantle the economic logistics of criminal groups, Bukele has done the same but taking advantage of goods and weapons for the State's own benefit.

"In this way, we will use their same resources to combat them," Bukele said at the beginning of the state of emergency, while a deputy from his party assured that "with the same money that caused the population to mourn, with that same money they will have to answer to justice."

Although at the moment these alternatives are far from being implemented in Mexico, taking into account the attitude of the current government, we must wait for the elections in 2024 to know if Mexicans take a turn to the right in search of other alternatives on critical issues such as safety.