Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador from 2019 to 2024.

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Feb 20th, 2020
President Nayib Bukele

Nayib Bukele, the current president of El Salvador, was sworn in on June 1st, 2019, and it will serve a five-year term ending in 2024. At the age of 37, Bukele became the 46th president of El Salvador; he is the youngest person ever elected as president of this country.

Bukele broke 30 years of two-party dominance by the FMLN and ARENA. He defeated both the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) by a large percentage.

President Nayib Bukele
Nayib Bukele Family. Photo by: @ComunicacionSV

Who is Nayib Bukele?

Nayib Bukele is a Salvadoran business owner and politician; at the age of 37, he won the presidential elections in El Salvador. During his political career and as a member of the left-wing political party (FMLN), he served as mayor of Nuevo Cucatlan and San Salvador.

Nayib Bukele was 38 years old when he was elected the 46th president of El Salvador.

This is a quick summary of Nayib Bukele’s non-political life.

  • Nayib Bukele was born on July 24th, 1981, to Olga Ortez de Bukele and Armando Bukele; a prominent businessman of Palestinian descent.
  • Bukele studied law at the Jesuit Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador. He didn’t graduate as he started work at one of his father’s businesses, at the age of 18.
  • Nayib Bukele is married to Gabriela Rodríguez de Bukele.
  • Lastly, in August 2019, Nayib Bukele and his wife welcomed their first daughter, Layla, to the family.

Who are Nayib Bukele’s parents?

Nayib Bukele’s parents are Armando Bukele Kattan and Olga Ortez de Bukele. Nayib Bukele was born on July 24th, 1981, in the city of San Salvador.

Armando Bukele Kattan.

Armando Bukele Kattan is a chemical engineer of Palestinian origin. He is a well respected Salvadoran businessman, who was also an Iman. Armando Bukele is credited with promoting some of the first mosques in Latin America.

Olga Ortez de Bukele.

From what I was able to gather, Olga Ortez de Bukele has no public profile or public history that I can share here.

Nayib Bukele El Salvador.
Nayib Bukele & Gabriela de Bukele

Nayib Bukele’s path to becoming a presidential candidate.

Nayib Bukele had to endure the following path to become a presidential candidate. During this journey, he had to deal with issues involving his own party and much more.

2012 to 2015, Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlan.

Nayib Bukele’s first significant role in public office was being mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlan; this is a small municipality in the department of La Libertad.

During this election, and to compete, Nayib Bukele, a member of FMLN, made an alliance with Cambio Democratico (CD).

In this election, Nayib Bukele, and Cambio Democratico defeated the incumbent mayor; a member of ARENA, one of the two largest political parties in the country.

Nayib Bukele’s style of government is to make the community and its citizens the top priority. Surely, this is evident since he took office in Nuevo Cuscatlan.

His style of governing didn’t go well with the leaders of the left-wing political party, FMLN; they didn’t have control over the municipality.

Nayib’s way of thinking was that people in the municipality elected him to be mayor and not the political party; therefore, he was in charge and not the FMLN. This resulted in many confrontations between Nayib Bukele and the leaders of FMLN.

Nayib Bukele served three years as mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlan; during his term, he took this unknown municipally from obscurity to one of the best in the country. His vision for the municipality was way ahead of what previous mayors saw.

Even though at this point, his relationship with the leaders of the left-wing political party tenuous at best. The FMLN couldn’t deny his popularity and the job he was doing as mayor.

President Nayib Bukele
Cabinet meeting in 2020

2015 to 2018, Mayor of San Salvador, the nation’s capital.

In the 2015 municipality elections, Nayib Bukele defeated businessman Edwin Zamora, a popular figure in the right-wing political party ARENA.

Once he became mayor of San Salvador, he implemented the same type of governing as he did in Nuevo Cuscatlan. This is something that didn’t make the FMLN leadership happy.

During his tenure as mayor of the nation’s capital; he made the city organized, safer, and cleaner, and as a result, his popularity grew even more.

During his tenure as mayor, his administration did many projects in the benefits of the municipality.

The most popular and well-known project of his time in office was the refurbishing of the historic district.

He took an area known as crime-ridden and violent and change it to one of the most popular and safe destinations in the country, the San Salvador historic district.

To sum up, he finished his three years as mayor with the highest approval rate of any previous mayor. Furthermore, the city’s rating as a place to do business also went up.

So, why did the FMLN expulsed him from the political party?

Nayib Bukele’s expulsion from the FMLN.

In 2017, Nayib Bukele and the FMLN leadership clashed over many different issues; all related to the direction the party was heading and the way Sanchez Ceren, the current president, was governing.

Around September 2017, the FMLN ethics committee accused Bukele of the following:

  • Defamation and creating intra-party division by creating acts and speaking things against the political party.
  • Verbally and physically attacking Xóchitl Marchelli, a female party member.
  • Excessively attacking Sánchez Cerén, the current president and FMLN party elder.

Nayib Bukele did not attend the hearing scheduled for October 2017.

In October 2017, the FMLN Ethics Tribunal ruled against Nayib Bukele and expelled the San Salvador mayor from the party.

Unquestionably, Nayib Bukele’s expulsion from the party came at a high cost to the FMLN.

On the following municipality elections for mayors and senators (Diputados) in 2018; the FMLN lost 20 municipalities that they previously held, including San Salvador. Additionally, they lost 8 Senate seats.

Many voters didn’t vote for the FMLN to punishing them for the way they were governing the country; also for expelling the most popular and predominant party member.

This marks the beginning of Nayib Bukele’s journey to become the next president of El Salvador.

Creating Nuevas Ideas NI, his own political party.

After being expelled from the only political party he was affiliated with. Nayib Bukele decided to create his own political party to participate in the 2019 presidential elections.

From late 2017 and throughout 2019, Bukele’s approval rating was the highest of any potential candidate; furthermore, all the polls showed him as the imminent winner if he were to participate in the elections. All he needed now was a way to get in the candidate’s ballot.

There are many requirements to start a new political party; obviously, the most tedious and time-consuming is that you need to get 50,000 signatures supporting you in 90 days. Nayib Bukele was so popular that he obtained 200,000 signatures in 3 days.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or TSE didn’t approve the new political party in time; therefore, Bukele was not able to compete with its own political party.

Some people, including myself, noticed that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal was not approving the new political party on time. This was a sign that efforts to block him from competing on the 2019 presidential elections were being made.

This was the beginning of Nayib Bukele’s alliance with Cambio Demoratico or CD

Forming an alliance with Cambio Democratico CD.

Since the TSE decided not to approve the new political party Nuevas Ideas (NI); Nayib Bukele decided to register with Cambio Democratico (CD), one of the smallest political parties in the country.

At this point, everything was set, Nayib Bukele was going to run for president under the flag of Cambio Democratico.

And what you know, on the last night for individuals to register as possible candidates with a particular party. In secret and at the last minute, TSE decided to cancel Cambio Democratico or CD.

Now, TSE claims that they didn’t cancel Cambio Democratico to prevent Nayib Bukele from Running for president; myself and many others disagree, this is why.

The deadline for individuals to register with a particular party was at midnight.
TSE met in secret at 7pm on the day when the deadline was due.
By 9pm, they had decided to cancel Cambio Democratico; however, they decided not to make it public, until the following day, after the deadline had passed.

You might disagree and believe that this was not done to prevent Nayib Bukele from running for president. If you do, I respect your opinion, but I disagree.

This initiated the alliance of Nayib Bukele and GANA.

Nayib Bukele forms an alliance with GANA.

To compete in the 2019 presidential election, an alliance with GANA was the last option for Nayib Bukele.

It does not get any closer than this; on the last day for Nayib Bukele to register as a potential candidate with a political party, this happened.

The following times are not specific, but all the events happened on this particular day.

  • Around 7PM, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or TSE met in secret to discuss canceling Cambio Democratico.
  • By 9pm, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or TSE has already made the decision to cancel Cambio Democratico; however, they decide not to make it public until the following day.
  • 9pm to 10pm, Bukele gets word of the secret meeting, and that something is going on with regards to CD.
  • 10pm to 11pm, Nayib Bukele officially withdraws his affiliation with Cambio Democratico.
  • 11pm to 11.59pm, Nayib Bukele officially affiliates with GANA, the last political party available for him to compete.
  • 12.01am, the official deadline has passed.

The following day, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or TSE announces that Cambio Democratico has been canceled; therefore, Nayib Bukele can’t compete on the 2019 presidential elections.

The following day after the TSE press conference. Nayib Bukele announces that on the previous day; he had severed his affiliation with Cambio Democratico and had affiliated with GANA; therefore, he was going to compete on the 2019 elections.

This is real, this actually happened. Crazy isn’t!

El Salvador Government