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El Salvador’s Bukele Discusses Democracy, Crackdown on Crime and Spiritual Warfare

‘It’s a commonsense thing to seek God’s wisdom … that’s the first part of our plan’

El Salvador’s Bukele Discusses Democracy, Crackdown on Crime and Spiritual Warfare

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele recently discussed the results of restoring his country from being the world’s murder capital, the importance of seeking God’s wisdom and the challenges modern democracy faces.

During an interview with Tucker Carlson released Wednesday evening, Bukele, 42, noted the rapid decline in homicides in El Salvador since he took office in 2019.

At the start of 2024, the country registered a murder rate of 2.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, Turkish public broadcaster TRT World reports. In 2022, it had been at 7.5. Two years prior to that, the rate was 21.31.

“When we did that, we got huge condemnations,” Bukele said, referring to his actions as “a no-brainer.”

“You name it. Say an organization, we got a condemnation from them,” he said. “And a lot of them were human rights organizations.”

He continued: “And you would ask, what about the human right of a woman not to be raped? What about the human right of kids to, you know, play or to be free or to go to the park? And what about the human right to live? Or the human right to walk in the street? But no, they were worried about the human rights of the killers, which, you know, they have human rights, I don’t say they don’t.”

“But if you have to prioritize, what will you prioritize? You won’t prioritize the human rights of the killers and rapists and murderers,” he said. “And now the results are there. They’re tangible, measurable, undeniable.”

Carlson mentioned that Bukele – who won re-election in February with nearly 85 percent of the vote – is the most popular elected leader in the world. When Carlson asked why Bukele had been met with such hostility and criticism, he said, “I’m not sure.”

“One of the reasons is that we don’t pander to [critics],” he said. “So probably they don’t like that. I’m not going to go into conspiracy theory, I’m going to go into provable facts, right? So, there’s worldwide agendas … they have benchmarks that they need the countries to follow, and they need to countries to do it. But sometimes, if you work on those things, you’re probably neglecting the important things for your people, the things that your people are really asking for.”

Carlson then mentioned that during his inaugural speech, Bukele said the first component of his three-point plan to grow the economy was to seek God’s wisdom.

“Why would that be the first point of an economic plan?” Carlson asked with a laugh.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Bukele shot back. “What should be the first part of it? Most people would think that, right?”

“I just, I’ve never heard any leader of any country say that,” Carlson said.

“Because probably they forgot to represent the people that elect them,” Bukele said. “It’s a commonsense thing to seek God’s wisdom. … So that’s the first part of our plan.”

He later added: “There’s a spiritual war and there’s a physical war. And the physical war could be – that’s the unofficial version. If you win the spiritual war, it will reflect in the physical. I think our … impressive victory was because we won the spiritual war very, very fast. Because you didn’t have competition. I mean, [the gangs] were satanic. I think that made it easier.”

Bukele said he could not identify the peak of Western civilization, but he said we could all agree we are presently in a decline.

“Democracy’s great, right? The U.S. has proven that democracy can work. But the problem with democracy is that politicians have a great incentive to offer to give away the treasury,” he said.

“The incentives are wrong,” he continued. “So even a normal, not evil politician has the incentive to give away the treasury because he needs the votes. I mean, he needs to be elected. … So, the problem is that democracy works. Nobody can say it doesn’t because it worked in the United States, but if you don’t give maintenance to the system, it will fall – like a wall.”

In April, Bukele informed every official in the executive branch they would be investigated for corruption by the country’s attorney general.

“I imagine that there should be no problem with that,” he said in Salvadoran Spanish accompanied by English subtitles.

Bukele went on to say that his gravest fear is that he will leave behind a bad legacy.

“There are some presidents, some in prison and some on the run, but the most are remembered as criminals,” he said. “That’s not how I want to be remembered."

He continued:

So, I don’t steal because I don’t want to be remembered as a criminal or as corrupt. But for one president, President [Rodrigo] Duarte, people back then used to say: the president isn’t a thief, but he surrounded himself with thieves. There was a time when he offered hope for the Salvadoran people. But even if it’s true he didn’t steal, then he was foolish, because he was the people’s hope, he didn’t touch a cent, and still stained his legacy by surrounding himself with thieves.

“That won’t happen to me," Bukele concluded. "I won’t be the president that didn’t steal but was surrounded by criminals. I want to be remembered as the president who didn’t steal and didn’t let anyone else steal, either. And the one who put whoever stole in prison. There are a couple who are already there.”

The Salvadoran president describes himself on his X profile as a “Philosopher King” – a reference to Plato’s Republic. He had previously deemed himself “the coolest dictator in the world.”

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