When Nayib Bukele was inaugurated as El Salvador’s new president on June 1, the ceremony—open to the public for the first time—was, like several other opening gambits of the new administration, more symbolic than substantive. Held outdoors in the historic center of downtown San Salvador just blocks from the bustle of street vendors and the wheeze of city buses, the event was squarely on brand with Bukele’s populist messaging and widely promoted as the first glimpse of a “new era” of governance in El Salvador: inclusive, accessible, and transparent.
However, as Bukele marks his first 100 days as president and the substance of his administration begins to take form, Salvadoran popular movement organizations warn that far from any “new ideas” (for which Bukele’s party, Nuevas Ideas, is named), Bukelismo signals a return to the all-too-familiar neoliberal program of wealth reconsolidation and acquiescence to empire, albeit rebranded in the populist, “post-ideological” rhetoric of our times.
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About the author: The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) is a grassroots solidarity organization that has been supporting the Salvadoran people’s struggle for social and economic justice since 1980.