Poll: Nearly 95% Approve of Anti-Migration Salvadoran President Bukele Deemed Authoritarian by Biden Team

El Salvador presidential candidate Nayib Bukele of the Great National Alliance (GANA) speaks to the media after declaring victory in the presidential election in San Salvador on February 3, 2019. - Nayib Bukele, the popular former mayor of San Salvador, claimed victory on February 3 in the Central American country's …
MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images

El Salvador’s anti-migration President Nayib Bukele enjoys a 94 percent public approval rating, granting him the ability to establish a foundation to repel the ongoing political offensive against his administration by President Joe Biden’s deputies who have labeled the leader of the small Central American country an authoritarian.

Bukele earned his approval rating because of how he has managed the country for the last two years, according to a fairly new independent pollster known as the Center for Social and Economic Research and Studies of Central America (or  CIESCA, the acronym of the organization’s name in Spanish).

At the launch of the NGO on Monday, the self-described independent, non-partisan CIESCA unveiled the results of its political and socio-economic analysis of President Bukele’s first 2-years of his five-year presidential term.

“Yesterday was the official launch of the Center for Social and Economic Research and Studies of Central America, an independent, apolitical and non-profit institution, of a research and academic nature,” the NGO wrote in Spanish on Facebook. “At this launch, the results of the political and economic socio-economic analysis of President Nayib Bukele’s 2-year government took place.”
According to the NGO, Bukele’s management of the country has increased the public’s levels of trust in government. People perceive Bukele’s administration “as a legitimate government,” CIESCA pointed out. The organization’s assessment came despite Vice President Kamala Harris’s efforts to paint Bukele as an authoritarian. President Joe Biden has tasked Harris with addressing “root causes” of migration in Central America’s Northern Triangle region —El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
It is difficult to ascertain CIESCA’s self-professed credentials as independent and non-partisan given its short time around and limited engagement so far. However, Bukele’s high approval rating shown in the NGO’s poll is consistent with other surveys conducted throughout the president’s tenure. According to those surveys, the Central American leader’s approval rating has stood at over 75 percent since he took office.
The NGO attributed the 94 percent approval rating to Bukele’s efforts to improve education, health, safety, and public works. Respondents gave the Salvadoran leader high rankings for his handling of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Bukele’s vaccine campaign is considered the most successful in Central America, the NGO noted.

Yorleny Quesada, a political scientist at CIESCA, indicated that President Bukele maintained high approval ratings from the population, making him the best-evaluated leader in the entire American continent.

Nevertheless, some Democrats, the Biden administration, and their U.S. mainstream media allies have deemed Bukele an authoritarian.

To the dismay of Democrats, Bukele worked with the Trump administration to limit migration from Central America. In mid-March, the Salvadoran president told Fox News the exodus of people heading north is terrible for the U.S. and worse for Latin America because it extracts the workforce vital to building the solid financial conditions that would keep them in their home country.

The Biden team’s attacks against Bukele came after his New Ideas party gained a supermajority in the Salvadoran Legislature and voted on May 1 to remove all five magistrates of the constitutional chamber of the country’s Supreme Court and the attorney general (AG).

Biden Administration officials have complained that the move amounts to democratic backsliding and have urged Bukele to reverse course, to no avail.

The Salvadoran population, including members of the country’s diaspora in the United States, has supported the move.

CIESCA conducted its survey of 1,038 Salvadorans across the country between May 10 and 14, after the ouster of the judges and attorney general.

According to the poll, 93 percent of respondents expressed a favorable opinion of the Legislative Assembly and its recent actions.

The poll also showed that 95 percent of respondents expressed approval for Bukele’s possible re-election. However, the Salvadoran Constitution does not permit consecutive re-election, previously elected presidents may run for a second, non-consecutive term.

Although the Bukele administration is reportedly exploring some constitutional reforms, officials have allegedly been emphatic that the goal is not to perpetuate the president in power.

The surveyed Salvadorans cited the fight against corruption, promoting an independent country, and creating projects of great benefit to the nation as reasons for supporting possible re-election.

The Bukele administration is likely not immune to corruption. However, the Salvadoran public believes the president is making a genuine effort to solve the problem and make the country safer to prevent people from migrating to the United States.

Many voters have credited the Salvadoran leader’s security policy with helping to bring down the endemic gang violence that plagues the country. Still, the homicide rate in the nation remains one of the highest in the world outside a war zone.

VP Harris has expressed to work more with like-minded civil society groups in Central America than the elected governments, reducing the chances of a coordinated regional response to the migrant surge at the U.S southern border as she refuses to discuss the mission Biden gave her with the presidents of El Salvador.

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