Is Bukele the key to greater Central American integration?

The role of the Salvadoran president can serve to revive the dream of a (more) united Central America .

Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador

His anti-establishment and populist style allows him to be liked by a Latin American population tired of the political class. Photo: IG-nayibbukele

LatiAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Es Bukele la clave para una mayor integración centroamericana?

The popularity of Nayib Bukele, president of El Salvador, crosses borders . It was not only demonstrated that in his country he is the lord and master, completely controlling the executive, legislative and judicial with the last parliamentary elections. Also the favorable image of the "millennial president", as he calls himself, generates followers throughout the American continent.

His anti-establishment and populist style allows him to be liked by a Latin American population tired of the political class.

Vaccines as a diplomatic method

For very few presidents, the pandemic was an opportunity to make great strides. Well, Bukele has always proven to be an unconventional president and managed to capitalize on the health crisis.

Not only for being the lord and lord of social networks and promoting his achievements, since El Salvador registers much better numbers in its fight against COVID-19 compared to Honduras, Guatemala, and many other countries in the region. Bukele is also now using his maneuverability with vaccines.

The Salvadoran president recently took advantage of 78,000 surplus vaccines that he had in El Salvador to send to Honduras. What in many cases is seen as a policy of sister governments, in this, the gravitational figure of Bukele monopolized the subconscious of Hondurans and they see him as the person responsible for this cooperation.

Also read: Vaccine diplomacy

Several Hondurans thank the neighboring president for the vaccines. This has demonstrated Bukele's obvious strategy to get followers, even outside its borders.

This has even generated electoral sympathy in Hondurans themselves, according to Jennifer Ávila, director of the independent media outlet Contracorriente, for El País in Spain. Bukele is getting several opposition parties to President Juan Orlando Hernández to use the image of the Salvadoran to get votes. This will leave an unprecedented event for a foreign leader capable of influencing the Honduran elections with his image and support alone. This is even seen in social media accounts of Nuevas Ideas franchises (party founded by Bukele) in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Obviously, this play can also be risky. A diplomatic conflict with a neighboring country could also generate economic consequences that benefit no one. For this, Bukele will have to deal with his public speeches towards internal politics with tweezers.

The second Central American Republic

Although thinking that Nayib Bukele could be that caudillo capable of reunifying the Central American countries is quite utopian, it is not false that his image can generate greater cooperation between these countries.

It could be something very similar to what former President Hugo Chávez managed to leverage in popularity and petrodollars. Thanks to the support of the Bolivarian colonel, Venezuela created organizations such as the Petrocaribe and managed to control Unasur due to its allies in the region.

Likewise, not for nothing, the late "commander" always envisioned fulfilling Bolívar's dream and being the successor of that United America, from the Rio Grande to Patagonia. Now Bukele could get the return of the Federal Republic of Central America, or at least some part of it with allied governments. Well, it is not very far from reality that Bukele manages to emerge as the image of a caudillo that Latinos love so much.

The image of Nayib Bukele as the new Rock Star of Latin politics is a reality. In a scenario of great unpopularity among the governments of the region, the leader of the New Ideas party is the one who is best off. Will the millennial president be the figure that promotes the Central American union, or at least the northern triangle: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador?

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