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Why El Salvador elected a self-proclaimed ‘coolest dictator’


Nayib Bukele first took office in 2019 as an independent, becoming El Salvador’s – and Latin America’s – youngest president. He made a name for himself through his alleged crackdown on gangs and savvy use of social media to market his efforts. 

While consolidating power and operating in a state of emergency, Bukele oversaw the imprisonment of more than 1 percent of El Salvador’s population. The improvements to safety have been celebrated across El Salvador, and other Latin American leaders are taking note of the approach. But these developments are also raising concerns that they come at a cost to human rights and democracy. Despite voting irregularities and a controversial decision that allowed him to skirt a ban on immediate reelection, Bukele continues to have widespread support. 

Read More: 

‘World’s coolest dictator’ reelected in El Salvador: What to know.

How to match Bukele’s success against gangs? First, dismantle democracy.

Today’s show was produced by Elana Gordon and edited by Monica Campbell. It was mixed by Sam Bair. Thanks to Carmen Valeria Escobar for additional reporting. 

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