Nayib Bukele Drops the Hammer on BBC Reporter When Challenged on Tough-on-Crime Stance in El Salvador

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The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has decreased crime in the country by historic lows. 

Some have criticized Bukele’s tough-on-crime, anti-criminal stance, going as far as calling him a “dictator.”

Bukele responded to the critics. 

They say we live in a dictatorship. Ask bus passengers, people eating in restaurants, waiters. Ask whomever you want. Here in El Salvador, you can go anywhere and it’s totally safe. … Ask them what they think of El Salvador, what they think of our government, what they think of our supposed dictatorship.

Bukele has an approval rating of 90 percent as of June 2023, per a CID Gallup poll. El Salvador recently re-elected Bukele as exit polls showed him taking 87 percent of the national vote. 

A BBC reporter tried challenging Bukele about his stance on crime. It didn’t go well for the reporter. In part, Buekele responded:

We took the recipes from the European Union, we took the recipes from the United States; none of the recipes worked. More gunshots, more people were dying, so what do we do? We do something, and we save people, and now, we’re the safest country in the Western Hemisphere. But suddenly something’s bad… Not only do we have the right to do what we think is right… but also we have proven it works, and you haven’t proven that your system works in our country. 

He also noted a scenario that he told a member of the European Union:

You take your best government. Choose your best government… same people, same talent, same experts, same will to do things the right way. You take your best government, and you put them to govern Afghanistan, and you tell them ‘Okay, you govern Afghanistan the same way you govern this European country. You’ll be dead in a week because you can’t govern Afghanistan like you govern Europe.

He continued:

So stop trying to make us use your recipes because they don’t work here. You have your own system. We don’t tell you that you shouldn’t have a Monarchy… It’s your country, you can do whatever you want with it, but suddenly we have to do what you want to do with our country… El Salvador was turned — from the most dangerous place in the world to the safest in the Western Hemisphere. 

Here is Bukele’s full response to the reporter:

I guess locking up criminals, which leads to crime dropping to record lows and citizens feeling safe, is popular. Maybe the politicians, specifically the District Attorneys in cities where crime is out of control in America would be resoundingly popular and re-elected if they did their job and made sure residents were safe in their cities. This is assuming they care about the safety of their residents instead of catering to the criminals. 

As we have seen in places like Orange County, California, DA Todd Spitzer won the election outright in the primary with over 64 percent of the vote during the 2022 midterm elections. 

Leadership matters. Results matter. Bukele has delivered on his promise to make El Salvador safe, and he was rewarded with a landslide re-election victory. 

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