Last modified on February 6, 2024, at 18:47

Nayib Bukele

Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez
President Nayib Bukele.jpg
Arms of El Salvador.png
43rd President of El Salvador

From: June 1, 2019 – present
Vice President Félix Ulloa
Predecessor Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Successor Incumbent (no successor)
13th Mayor of San Salvador
From: 1 May 2015 – 30 April 2018
Predecessor Norman Quijano
Successor Ernesto Muyshondt
Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán
From: 1 May 2012 – 30 April 2015
Predecessor Álvaro Rodríguez
Successor Michelle Sol
Party Nuevas Ideas (2018–present)
GANA (2019)
Democratic Change (2018)
FMLN (2012-2017)
Spouse(s) Gabriela Rodríguez
Religion Christianity

Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez (born 24 July 1981, San Salvador, El Salvador) is the 43rd president of El Salvador, serving since 1 June 2019.

Then-mayor of San Salvador Nayib Bukele at the Western Wall, February 2018.[1]

His father Armando Bukele Kattán was a son of Arab Palestinian migrants, born a Christian who later on converted to Islam. However, he forged good relations with Jews in that country. His maternal side were Catholic. His wife has Jewish roots.[1]

Nayib Bukele served as mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán for three years from 2012 to 2015, and then served three years as mayor of San Salvador, the nation's capital, from 2015 to 2018. After winning both mayoral elections as a member of the FMLN, in 2017 Bukele was expelled from the party. In 2018 he established his own political party: Nuevas Ideas (NI). He sought to run for president in the 2019 election with the center-left Democratic Change (CD); however, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) dissolved the CD, forcing Bukele to instead run with the center-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA). He won the election with 53 percent of the vote.

In 2019, he united both left and right-wing voters in his party "Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional", GANA, which promised to move away from Chavism and Latin American socialism and closer to the United States and Europe, but maintaining a strong national sentiment for El Salvador's culture and history.

With this discourse, Bukele obtained almost a million and a half votes in the first round, which consecrated him president with more than 53% of the electoral roll. Thus, he left out of the government both the conservative Carlos Calleja and the communist Hugo Martinez, both of whom are accused of being close to Caribbean drug trafficking.

In addition, he promised to confront crime and organized crime with all the power of the State, a measure that both the FMLN and ARENA have failed miserably in the past. It should be remembered that El Salvador is a country whose national territory is occupied in some parts by the maras mafia, which have parallel governments and promote terrorism and drug trafficking on Salvadoran soil.[2]

He is the first president since José Napoleón Duarte (1984–1989) not to have been elected as the candidate of one of the country's two major political parties: the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

President Nayib Bukele started an historic decrease of murders in the country, bringing security to record levels.[3] The international left accuses him of being too authoritarian by having in a big jail the same criminales that made El Salvador a dangerous place. The Biden Administration even said that Human Rights were not respected enough.[4]

2022-4 Nayib is criticized for major abusing human rights,[5][6][7] on the other hand his cracking down on the gangs gained him large approval.[7]

Bukele won reelection in Febrary 2024 with 83.13% of the votes, ensuring the continuity of his administration.

First year

Bukele, for his part, has had a difficult path to government. Both the FMLN and ARENA have made life impossible for him in Congress, and have tried to block his plan to combat drug trafficking on multiple occasions.

Last February 9, Bukele would burst into an empty Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, accompanied by police and military, with the objective of demanding that the deputies appear in their chambers to vote on the hundreds of laws he was sending, among them, an important loan of $109 million dollars to finance his plan against the gangs. Bukele would not get the loan approved due to a lack of quorum (only 20 of the 84 deputies in the Assembly were present). The opposition would qualify this as a "self-coup". The militarization of the Assembly, guaranteed according to Bukele by an article of the Constitution that states that legislators cannot be absent without cause from all sessions, finally came to nothing with the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, which led him to a strict quarantine,

His treatment of the Chinese virus was very effective. El Salvador was one of the last countries in the world to be infected with the coronavirus and the borders were totally closed even though there were no confirmed cases.

President Bukele is still in the habit of giving very detailed daily reports of the number of tests and sanitary control techniques directly from his Twitter account.

However, in order to implement the quarantine in a country that does not even exercise sovereignty over its entire territory, Bukele had to resort to highly criticized measures, which promoted arbitrary arrests of citizens, enclosures of villages, closures of businesses and the prohibition of free movement of Salvadorans in the country.

While all this was going on, the maras, angry with the president's restrictions, began a series of homicides throughout the last weekend of April that would be labeled a terrorist massacre by the government.

This led Bukele to finally make good on his promise about the prisons. First he mixed inmates from different gangs in the same cells, then he sent to seal the cells of all inmates in all prisons with gang members, banned recreational activities and cancelled any communication with the outside world.

In El Salvador, 70% of the prison population belongs to one of the main gangs or mafias in the country, so these measures that dismiss any claim for the human rights of criminals were widely applauded by the population.

Finally, in his first year of government Bukele had a major clash with the main businessmen of the country, generally prebendary partners of the last socialist governments.

Bukele accused the president of the Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), Javier Simán (also of Arab descent), of trying to sabotage his work and leadership during the pandemic. The rupture of this relationship occurred after the representation of the association withdrew from the Committee in charge of overseeing the investment of US$ 2 billion to fight the coronavirus, arguing that Bukele's government would refuse to account for the money.

With mistakes and successes, Salvadorans who hate him and others who love him, Nayib Bukele has very high popularity ratings. According to a survey by local newspaper "La Prensa Grafica", President Bukele's administration has a 95.7% approval rating.

Expectations are high among citizens. The left warns that Nayib Bukele may become a man who consolidates his power and turns the country into a dictatorship.

The truth is that for now he is limited by a Congress that refuses to legislate, but for the legislative elections of 2021, the New Ideas party, of which Bukele is founder, will be able to participate and a resounding victory is predicted, thus achieving an absolute majority, which would allow him to move forward and implement all his campaign proposals.

Undoubtedly Bukele is the new sensation of Latin America, and has advanced light years to politics in El Salvador.[2]

Bitcoin adoption

In 2021 Nayib Bukele sent to congress the Bitcoin law[7] which legalized the cryptocurrency in the country. "All prices may be expressed in Bitcoin" and "All tax contributions may be paid in Bitcoin", states the Law. Thus, the Bitcoin is to compete directly against the US dollar, the other legal tender in El Salvador, a country that has not had its own currency since January 1, 2001.

The Bitcoin Law, which was 3 pages long, states that: "The State has the obligation to promote and protect private initiative, generating the necessary conditions to increase national wealth for the benefit of the greatest number of inhabitants".

Among the considerations, it assures that "70% of the population does not have access to traditional financial services", in reference to a statistic published by the government two years ago which assures that only 3 out of every 10 Salvadorans are banked.

"With the objective of boosting the country's economic growth, it is necessary to authorize the circulation of a digital currency whose value obeys exclusively to free market criteria", considers the Bitcoin Law.

With this legislation, transactions with this cryptocurrency will be free of taxes and tariffs, any gain from its increase in value will not be imputed to income tax (as is already the case with the U.S. dollar).

In addition, "without prejudice to private action", the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador will guarantee tools for users to carry out transactions in Bitcoin if they do not want to use the multiple private apps.

Finally, a trust will be created in the Development Bank of El Salvador (BANDESAL) to guarantee the automatic and instantaneous convertibility of Bitcoin to US dollars at market price.

This option will allow Salvadorans to receive remittances from abroad in Bitcoin without paying fees, which in dollars until now could reach up to 30%. Almost 20% of El Salvador's GDP is explained by remittances, so releasing this market force will benefit practically the entire population of the Caribbean country.[8]

President Nayib Bukele, confirmed in October 1st, 2021, that El Salvador mined the first Bitcoin with volcanic energy. Through Twitter, the social network he uses so well, he shared an image of the mining in progress, which showed 0.00599179 Bitcoin, with a value of around 288 dollars at the exchange rate at the time.[9]

Crime reduction and security

In just his first months in office, President Bukele has managed to implement a "mano dura" (iron fist) policy against gangs.

He launched the Territorial Control Plan on June 18 of last year, just three weeks after taking office. The plan had three axes: to exercise effective control of penal centers, to interrupt the financing of organized crime and to strengthen the security forces.

Thanks to his security strategy, homicides have dropped dramatically, and by April he announced measures in the country's penitentiary system.

Bukele has a much more pragmatic stance than his predecessor, Salvador Sánchez Cerén (FMLN) in terms of foreign relations, having seriously approached the United States but maintaining a close relationship with Mexico.

In this way, he has managed to attract investments and cooperation from all political corners of the world. Between the months of November and December 2019, Bukele visited Japan, China and Qatar and obtained very positive results for El Salvador.

In Japan, he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where he ratified support for important projects for El Salvador. In China, he was able to obtain a package of economic and health aid, and in Qatar he reached agreements on culture, sports, education and infrastructure. Then, he ended his tour with a memorable meeting with President Donald Trump, who gave him all his support for his administration and in return, Bukele promised to redouble the fight against the maras, which have been expanding their presence in the United States for decades, under the name of MS-13.[2]

While other countries are releasing prisoners from their jails because of the Chinese virus, the new president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who came from the revolutionary left (in recent years he has taken a turn to the right), declared in 2021 a maximum emergency alert in the penitentiary system. Between 40 and 50 murders in two days last weekend, perpetrated mainly by armed gangs known as "maras", led to the strong but necessary decision to put all the country's prisons under maximum scrutiny.

In this way, and without negotiating with Congress, Bukele authorized the use of lethal force to combat the maras and defend the population in one of the bloodiest weekends in the country's history. In addition, he announced that the government will personally take charge of the legal defense of those who are unjustly accused of defending their own life or that of other "honest" people with firearms in a criminal act, allowing de facto self-defense throughout the national territory.[10]

Relations with the Trump Administration

President Nayib Bukele with President Donald Trump.

President Nayib Bukele told Fox News the ‘new-liberal practice’ immigration policy was ‘immoral’ and 'not good for the US, not good for El Salvador, causing a brain drain and sending El Salvadore's future workforce to the U.S. in exchange for a tiny remittance.[11] Bukele to slam the FBI raid and asked after the Biden regime's Mar-a-Lago raid on President Donald Trump's home residence, “What would the US government say, if our police raided the house of one of the main possible contenders of our 2024 presidential election?”[12]


In 2022, Bukele launched controversial reelection bid[13] which he won on Sep 5 2024.

Bukele won reelection with 83.13% of the votes, ensuring the continuity of his administration.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Raphael Ahren, His dad was an imam, his wife has Jewish roots: Meet El Salvador’s new leader, TOI, 7 February 2019.
    Nayib Bukele's grandfather was a Christian Palestinian from Jerusalem, which didn't stop president-elect visiting in 2018 -- and this week recalling his stop at the Western Wall.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nayib Bukele: primer año de gobierno del presidente que revolucionó a El Salvador (es). La Derecha Diario (December 5, 2020).
  3. El Salvador continúa con la reducción histórica de los homicidios (es). La Huella Digital (March 15, 2023).
  4. Bukele justifica sus políticas; EE.UU. le recuerda que se deben respetar los DD. HH. (es). France 24 (March 2, 2023).
  5. Salvador: President Bukele engulfs the country in a human rights crisis after three years in government, June 2, 2022
  6. El Salvador’s leader, criticized internationally for gang crackdown, tells UN it was the right thing, AP, Sep 19, 2023
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Rise of Nayib Bukele, El Salvador's Authoritarian President, New Yorker, Sep 5, 2022.
    The budding strongman has ridden Bitcoin schemes and a repressive crackdown on gangs to become Latin America's most popular leader...
  8. La Asamblea de El Salvador promulgó la Ley Bitcoin que envió Nayib Bukele para hacer de curso legal a la criptomoneda (es). La Derecha Diario (June 9, 2021).
  9. El Salvador minó su primer Bitcoin utilizando energía volcánica, tuitea el presidente Nayib Bukele (es). La Derecha Diario (October 5, 2021).
  10. Nayib Bukele le declara la guerra total a la delincuencia y a los presos. La Derecha Diario (June 1, 2021).
  13. They criticize Bukele's re-election bid, LaPrensa Grafica, Sep 19, 2022.
    Jurists, organizations and deputies agree that the presidential re-election is unconstitutional and warn that a dictatorship is coming in El Salvador.

    Following the announcement that President Nayib Bukele made on September 15 to seek re-election in office, constitutional lawyers, social organizations, deputies and international analysts reacted to it and agreed that what is being sought is unconstitutional.