Nayib Bukele Clashes with BBC Reporter over Tough-on-Crime Stance in El Salvador

Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador has reduced crime to historic lows.

Bukele has been criticized for his anti-criminal, tough-on-crime stance. Some even go as far as to call him a dictator.

Bukele has responded to critics.

They claim that we live under a dictatorship. You can ask bus passengers, restaurant patrons, or waiters. You can ask anyone you like. You can go anywhere in El Salvador and be safe. You can ask them about El Salvador, our government, and our alleged dictatorship.

Bukele’s approval rating is 90 percent according to a CID Gallup survey conducted in June 2023. El Salvador re-elected Bukele after exit polls indicated that he had received 87 percent of national votes.

Bukele was questioned by a BBC reporter about his views on crime. The reporter’s attempt to challenge Bukele about his stance on crime didn’t end well. In part, Buekele responded:

No matter which recipe we used, none of them worked. What do we do when there are more gunshots and more deaths? We did something and saved people. Now, we are the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Then, suddenly, something bad happens… We have the right to act as we see fit… and we’ve proven it works. You haven’t proved that your system is effective in our country.

He noted that he had told a European Union member a similar scenario:

Take your best government. You choose your best government. Same people, same talent and expertise, same willingness to do the right thing. You put your best government in charge of Afghanistan and tell them, “Okay, now you will govern Afghanistan like you do this European country.” You will be dead within a week if you don’t manage Afghanistan the same way you do Europe.

He continued:

Stop trying to force us to use your recipes, because they won’t work. You have your system. We do not tell you to have a Monarchy… You can do anything you want in your country. But suddenly, we’re forced to do the same with ours. El Salvador went from being the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere to one of the safest.

Bukele’s complete response to the reporter is below:

I suppose locking up criminals is popular, as it leads to crime falling to record lows while citizens feel safe. If they were to do their jobs and ensure residents felt safe, the politicians and District Attorneys of cities in America where crime has gotten out of hand would likely be popular and reelected. It is assumed that they are concerned about the safety and security of their citizens, rather than catering to criminals.

In Orange County, California for example, Todd Spitzer, the DA, won the election in 2022 with over 64 percent in the primary.

Leadership is important. Results are important. Bukele delivered on his promise of making El Salvador safe and was rewarded with a landslide victory in re-election.