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El Salvador's Bukele: The posterboy for popular authoritarianism
El Salvador's Bukele: The posterboy for popular authoritarianism | GZERO World

El Salvador's Bukele: The posterboy for popular authoritarianism

Here's one country where democracy is on the backslide, and the increasingly authoritarian leader could not be more popular. El Salvador's Nayib Bukele won the presidency at 37, as Latin America's youngest elected head of state, as an outspoken candidate on social media with an affinity for cryptocurrency.

In a wide-ranging interview on the state of global democracy in 2024, Stanford's Francis Fukuyama explains Bukele's crime-fighting appeal: "El Salvador legitimately elected Nayib Bukele as president, but he embarked on this massive effort to simply round up people that he thought were gang members and put them in prison, no trial, no, judicial process to find out whether they're actually guilty or not. And as a result, around 10% of the young men in the country are now sitting in prison. Uh, and it's been quite successful in reducing the level of gang violence in El Salvador by like 90%."

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Divided we fall: Democracy at risk in the US
Divided we fall: Democracy at risk in the US | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Divided we fall: Democracy at risk in the US

2024 is gearing up to be a pivotal year for global democracy, with elections testing authoritarian appeal, particularly in the United States.

2023 was a year of war, in Europe, of war in the Middle East, and beyond. So it's safe to say that the year to come will not be all honey and roses. But here's a prediction: Even if 2024 may not be a GOOD year, it WILL be the most consequential one for the future of democracy, both abroad and here in the United States.

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America vs itself: Political scientist Francis Fukuyama on the state of democracy

Listen: In this edition of the GZERO World podcast, Ian Bremmer speaks with Stanford’s Francis Fukuyama about the state of democracy worldwide and here in the US. 2024 will be a pivotal year for democracy, and nowhere more so than here at home. A quarter of Americans believe that the FBI was behind January 6. But as the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” But today, in America, we cannot agree on basic facts. On this note, Fukuyama joins Bremmer to discuss the global and domestic threats to democracy.

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El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele registers his candidacy to seek reelection in 2024.

Latin America News Agency/REUTERS

El Salvador's Bukele benefits from bond boom

Nayib Bukele, the strongman president of El Salvador, certainly has his critics. He’s angered human rights activists with his sledgehammer crackdown on gang violence. He has antagonized the opposition by using the military to intimidate Congress and appointing judges who helped him wriggle out of term limits. Even the US has warned the youthful and irreverent Bukele about undermining his country’s fragile democracy.

And yet … Bukele enjoys a staggering 91% approval rating among ordinary Salvadorans, who see his strongman tactics as the price to pay for safer streets in one of the world’s most violent countries. The official homicide rate has fallen by half over the past year.

Now add one more group to the Bukele fan club: bond investors. The country’s sovereign debt is delivering 60% returns in 2023, the best performer in the world.

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Gabriella Turrisi

Hard Numbers: Bukele 2024, German troops in Lithuania, Manipur unrest, Chinese deepfake scam

154: On Monday, El Salvador's strongman President Nayib Bukele officially registered to run for reelection next year. Although the Supreme Court — packed with Bukele loyalists — ruled in 2021 that this doesn't violate constitutional term limits, opposition lawyers say a second term is expressly forbidden by Art. 154.

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