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El Salvador’s Bukele Orders Entire Executive Branch to be Investigated for Corruption

‘I won’t be the president that didn’t steal but was surrounded by criminals’

El Salvador’s Bukele Orders Entire Executive Branch to be Investigated for Corruption

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele informed every official in the executive branch they will be investigated for corruption by the country’s attorney general.

An April 26 video of the announcement, which Bukele shared on X, went viral Monday night, garnering over 2 million views.

“You can see that everyone here is from the executive branch … that I oversee, except for one person: the Attorney General. He’s not part of the Executive Branch, but he’s here for a simple reason: I want to ask him publicly to investigate everyone sitting here. Retroactively and into the future,” Bukele says in the video, speaking directly to officials under his command. Though speaking in Salvadoran Spanish, the president’s comments were translated into English via subtitles.

“I imagine that there should be no problem with that,” he added.

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. 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.”

Bukele concluded: “That won’t happen to me. 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 video of Bukele’s announcement was accompanied by another post from the president saying his commissioner had been captured by the attorney general’s office on charges of bribery.

“The investigations show that [Christian] Flores, using his position as Presidential Commissioner, demanded money from people and companies in exchange for benefits and preferential participation in the government's strategic projects,” Bukele wrote on X.

“This is just the beginning of an extensive investigation, to deduce responsibilities and other corruption crimes,” he added. “The Fiscalía General de la República El Salvador will continue steadfast in the fight against corruption.”

Bukele is a millennial who described 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.”

In February, Bukele was re-elected to office despite a previous Supreme Court ruling that consecutive re-election was unconstitutional. The president won in a landslide with nearly 85% of voters’ support.

“Bukele, a populist strongman, has already made moves that critics say endanger the Central American nation’s fragile democracy,” Associated Press reports. “In addition to going after critics and locking up 1% of his country’s population in his gang crackdown, the leader last year also approved reforms slashing the number of seats in Congress, effectively weighing upcoming elections in his party’s favor.”

Bukele’s approach to reducing crime cut homicide rates by more than half according to 2023 data.

“Murders in El Salvador tumbled 56.8% in 2022 amid a widespread crackdown on gang violence ... extending a sharp drop in killings in a nation which for years had one of the world's worst murder rates,” per Reuters. “Authorities registered a total of 496 homicides last year, down from 1,147 in 2021, Defense Minister Francis Merino said. The tally does not count deaths of gang members killed in encounters with security forces, which would raise the total to 600.”

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