El Salvador’s popular hard-line president boasted that his social media approval ratings had soared after his government’s crackdown on crime.
Nayib Bukele has jailed over 65,000 gang members since he cracked down on rampant cartel activity in the country with an “iron fist” in March 2022.
Various surveys have shown that the support of the 42-year-old has risen to around 90 percent as a result. Bukele retweeted positive statistics about his tenure on Tuesday after they were posted to the controversial End Wokeness Conservative Twitter account.
Bukele shared the account with 1.4 million followers to highlight how record-breaking incarceration rates and heavy-handed policing have essentially ended cartel dominance in the country.
“He has conquered one of the deadliest countries and made it the safest in Latin America,” the report said. ‘How did he do that? He locked up the criminals.’
Nayib Bukele fought El Salvador’s crime spree with an “iron fist,” leading to a spate of arrests while his popularity ratings soared
El Salvador’s homicide rate peaked at 107 per 100,000 people in 2015, before Bukele’s tough policing saw the number drop to just 2.3 in 2023
Bukele’s tough approach to fighting crime was already evident when he was elected president more than four years ago, when he announced a “territorial control plan” to tackle gang activity.
El Salvador was still suffering from one of the worst crime waves in recent memory, reaching a staggering 107 homicides per 100,000 people in 2015, according to ministry data World Bank.
More than 4,000 people were arrested in the first weeks of his tenure, and the widespread arrests caused the homicide rate to drop to just 18 per 100,000 by 2021.
Although crime rates were improving, Bukele was clearly not satisfied and he increased his government’s focus on gangs over the past year in the face of increased activity, particularly that of the notorious MS-13 cartel.
Bukele’s extensive crackdown on cartel activity has resulted in El Salvador having the highest incarceration rate in the world
On March 26, 2022, El Salvador recorded its deadliest day since its civil war ended 30 years ago, with 62 murders within 24 hours. In response, Bukele declared a state of emergency, which suspended civil liberties and drastically expanded police powers.
The “state of emergency” was originally intended to last just 30 days, but over the year and a half nearly 70,000 suspected gang members have been jailed.
The arrests have resulted in El Salvador reportedly having the highest incarceration rate in the world unherd.
The source calculated that the homicide rate is about 2.3 per 100,000 in the first six months of 2023, a dramatic drop from the peak in 2015.
While some criticized Bukele for the extensive arrests, he was widely praised by those rejoicing in a lull in rampant cartel activity.
The End Wokeness Twitter account, which regularly posts about the impact of soft Democrat policies on failing cities like San Francisco, hailed the president’s success as a result of “jailing the criminals.”
“Homicide rate in El Salvador has dropped by 92%,” read a separate post, also retweeted by Bukele.
“How did President Bukele do that? By addressing the “root causes”? By tackling “systemic inequalities”? nope He cracked down on the gangs and jailed 65,000 criminals. And now he has a 90% approval rating.”
The report added that “our cities need someone like him,” comparing Bukele’s tough policing to the rampant shoplifting, open-air drug use and low arrest rates seen in many blue-led cities.
While some have criticized the hard-line stance for alleged violations of civil liberties, the lack of crime has meant Bukele enjoyed a period of sky-high popularity, as he jokingly referred to himself as “the coolest dictator alive”.
So far, several governments have struggled to deal with the violence that is spreading across El Salvador. One of Nayib Bukele’s tough solutions was the opening of a mega prison in February (pictured)
The first batch of 2,000 inmates arrived at the new CECOT mega-prison on February 24, 2023. El Salvador earlier arrested more than 64,000 suspected gang members involved in the fight against violent crime in the world’s murder capital
In particular, there have been allegations that Bukele made backdoor deals with cartel leaders to reduce gang killings in exchange for better prison conditions.
The spike in homicides came as Bukele allegedly broke deals, including opening hellish CECOT “Terrorism Confinement Center” mega-prison, which houses over 100 inmates per cell.
Conditions in the prison have been compared to concentration camps by civil rights groups, as the cells have a meter of space, no mattresses and no outside area.
The opening of the prison is part of Bukele’s brutal crackdown on two of North and Central America’s most feared gangs – MS-13 and Calle 18 – with members of the rival cartels huddled in a menacing manner.
This is the result of the President’s intense efforts, for in exchange for the drop in homicide rates there is an overcrowded 40,000-place prison that houses the country’s most dangerous criminals, many of whom are on opposite sides of a decades-long feud.