Nayib Bukele Redoubles His Controversial Bets

The Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, continues implementing firm-hand policies against violence and a bet for cryptocurrencies

Nayib Bukele

Photo: Flickr-fotospresidencia_sv

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Nayib Bukele redobla sus controversiales apuestas

2022 ends and the decisions that the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, will continue on 2023 are already known. The popular Central American politician has communicated and executed in recent weeks two of his most controversial and risky policies in terms of security and economy.

Despite receiving several criticisms or warnings both internally and from the international community, Bukele trusts the measures that his government has taken and redoubles his bets. It does not give in to pressure and does not seem to fear repercussions that could be devastating for the Latin American country.

Rounding Up Cities in Search of Gang Members

Despite the fact that Nayib Bukele is a non-traditional and quite controversial politician, there has not been a policy more criticized internationally than his fight against violence. The president has decided to use force and confrontation against the infamous "maras" and has been waging a merciless war against these armed groups that have been intimidating ordinary Salvadorans for years.

Also read: Colombia: release of young protesters detained in 2021 revives prison crisis debate

At the beginning of the year 2022 (March 27), Bukele ordered an emergency regime due to the 62 homicides registered in one day. This measure gave the executive exceptional powers that have been renewed with extension after extension of the legislature.

Despite different warnings from international NGOs that indicate that there is a clear violation of human rights, the policy does not seem to change. In the middle of the year, Amnesty International presented a report that demonstrates the massive violations of human rights. This, due to arbitrary arrests of people without proof of belonging to gangs. In addition, there are possible violations of the prison population, which Bukele threatens to harm and defund if free criminals continue with their criminal actions or in retaliation for the security policies implemented.

By August, the authorities had registered 50,000 prisoners, with which Bukele requested the construction of a new prison with a capacity of 40,000 prisoners in the rural area of the city of Tecoluca. Added to the 16,000 criminals associated with gangs imprisoned before the emergency regime, by mid-2022 there were more than 66,000 imprisoned gang members. And Nayib Bukele continues his pacification of El Salvador. Now the military has the strategy of encircling entire cities while searching for gang members. That was the case of the city of Soyapango, belonging to the area of influence of San Salvador, the capital. 10,000 members of the armed forces and the national police extracted the gang members who had not yet been captured.

Despite the warnings and complaints from NGOs for the protection of human rights, a large part of the Salvadoran population has received the results with approval. A general reduction in the homicide rate and crime throughout the country that has lived under the yoke of crime is the main reason.

Bukele Continues Betting on Bitcoin

Although it sounds commonplace, Nayib Bukele continues to bet on Bitcoins. The president reported a couple of weeks ago that El Salvador would continue to buy this famous cryptocurrency as part of its national treasury. The Salvadoran president reported in November that despite the drop in the price of Bitcoin (and with this the value of Bitcoin that the country already had), El Salvador would buy one daily.

Bukele does not seem to fear the fall that this digital money has had, going from about 65 thousand dollars in November 2021 to less than 18 thousand in which it is traded these days. At the time, Bukele bought 2,381 bitcoins for the Central American country, which was estimated to be worth more than 100 million dollars and today does not even reach 50 million. El Salvador, (the first country to change its national treasury to Bitcoins and define it as a currency for legal use) only seems to have one way out: increase the bet and hope that the cryptocurrency increases in value so that the Salvadoran economy does not enter into crisis. However, the latest news from the Bitcoin market does not look encouraging, and the virtual currency has not stopped falling for a year.

At the time, Bukele's mission was simple: make El Salvador attractive to cryptocurrency enthusiasts, profit from the return on their investment, and become an easy method of "sending remittances," one of the main sources of GDP in El Salvador.

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