Bukele’s Second Term Ends Without Addressing Popular Demands

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Social organizations protest in San Salvador against policies of natural resource extraction and in defense of water (Photo: CISPES) Imagen: CISPES

Nayib Bukele’s second term has been marked by a series of setbacks and obstacles for popular struggles and demands, none of which have been echoed in any sort of government actions.

On June 1, raising the curtain on his third year in office, Bukele offered more militarization, mass firings, attacks on the country’s nascent democracy, and increased control over the country's institutions to hide corruption being committed by his administration.

Just ten days into June, the Bukele administration and his allies in the Legislative Assembly, which recently began a new term (2021-2024), have given clear signals that this period, very similar to his first year in office, will be defined by the eliminations of more social programs, mass layoffs in the public sector, taking on irresponsible levels of the national debt, authoritarian and anti-democratic practices and lack of transparency in public policy and spending.

This tendency had already been made clear in 2020 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic when the government imposed a series of measures that violated fundamental human rights, including halting the free movement of the population, completely militarizing several regions of the country, and arbitrarily and illegally detaining high numbers of people in what was known as containment centers.

Despite these blows against the population, Bukele’s political platform, the New Ideas party, won a landslide victory in February's legislative and municipal elections. New Ideas now has a majority in the Legislative Assembly and can easily achieve a two-thirds super-majority with the help of allied parties, leaving the opposition with little leverage in the legislative arena.

This scenario represents a steep challenge for Salvadoran popular movements. As Marisela Ramírez, Secretary-General of Salvadoran Student Power (Fuerza Estudiantil Salvadoreña), a student movement fighting for social justice, explained, “The situation for the majority of people has been really difficult and has only gotten worse in recent months due to a series of decisions by the government that will soon result in a deteriorating quality of life. That’s why advancing organizing among the popular organizations and building a strong movement is so important to be able to better confront and oppose what’s coming in the years ahead.”

 

Translation by: Alexis Stoumbelis and Lenora Q.

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