Bukele announces new “war” against the corrupt and the creation of another prison in El Salvador

Bukele announces new “war” against the corrupt and the creation of another prison in El Salvador

In a surprising speech to the nation on his fourth year in power, El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, has announced a new “war” against the country’s corrupt. In addition, he has revealed plans to build a new prison to incarcerate these individuals.

This new offensive by the president comes after more than a year of his energetic “war against gangs”. This time, however, his goal is to fight corruption and bring white-collar criminals to justice.

Fighting corruption in El Salvador

During his speech, Bukele made it clear that his commitment to the fight against corruption is as strong as it was to the fight against gangs. The president assured that he will pursue white collar criminals, no matter where they come from.

As a sign of his determination, he announced that the Attorney General’s Office was carrying out the search and seizure of all the properties of former President Alfredo Cristiani, who governed El Salvador from 1989 to 1994. Cristiani has been strongly criticized for alleged acts of corruption since his departure from power.

Alleged acts of corruption of Alfredo Cristiani

Alfredo Cristiani has been the subject of several journalistic investigations that have revealed alleged irregularities in his administration. For example, it has been discovered that shortly before leaving the Government, Casa Presidencial issued 106 checks in his name for a total of US$5.5 million, whose destination is still unknown.

In addition, it has been revealed that Cristiani was director, owner or president of at least 15 offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama from 1992 to 2018. These findings have led deputies of the ruling party to file a complaint before the Attorney General’s Office accusing the former president of money laundering, illicit enrichment and bribery.

Criticisms and fears

Despite Bukele’s determination to fight corruption, this new “war” has been the object of criticism and fears by analysts and members of civil society organizations. There are fears that this measure will be used to persecute the president’s political enemies, especially given that presidential, legislative and municipal elections will be held in less than a year.

Some transparency and anti-corruption experts argue that there is no real public policy to fight corruption in Bukele’s government, and that this measure may be used to pretend to fight corruption without touching those close to power.

Political and administrative reorganization

In addition to announcing the “war” against the corrupt, Bukele took advantage of his speech to announce a political-administrative reorganization of the country. In this sense, El Salvador will go from having 262 municipalities to only 44. According to the president, this measure aims to reduce public spending and maximize investment in works for the communities.

Bukele assured that the municipalities will not change their names and that public employees will not be dismissed, only positions of trust will be eliminated.

Criticisms and concerns about the reorganization

Political and administrative reorganization proposed by Bukele has generated criticism and concerns from the opposition. Many see this measure as a strategy to benefit in the upcoming elections.

In addition, it is argued that this provision threatens plurality in public administration, since it decreases the number of participants that political parties will be able to have in the next elections.

Some opponents consider that this measure seeks to further concentrate power in the hands of the Government.

Bukele’s legacy in the fight against corruption

Nayib Bukele came to power in 2019 with the promise of fighting corruption in El Salvador. However, during his term in office he has dismantled the institutions of transparency and comptrollership, dismissed the attorney general who was investigating him for alleged negotiations with gangs, and dissolved the International Commission Against Impunity that he himself had installed in the country.

In addition, he has protected his officials accused of corruption and has prevented them from being prosecuted. These actions have generated criticism and have led many to question his real commitment to the fight against corruption.

International Criticism

Bukele’s actions regarding corruption have generated international concern. More than a dozen Bukele government officials have been indicted for acts of corruption by the U.S. State Department.

These accusations include his press secretary, his legal secretary, his labor minister, one of his former agriculture ministers, and his former justice minister. However, the president has reacted to these accusations as foreign interference.


Nayib Bukele’s announcement of a new “war” against the corrupt and the construction of another prison in El Salvador has generated controversy and concern. Although the fight against corruption is a noble cause, the president’s actions and decisions have generated doubts about his true commitment to this fight.

The proposed political and administrative reorganization has also been questioned, as it is feared that it could be used to benefit the ruling party in the upcoming elections. Time will tell if these measures really succeed in combating corruption in the country or if they are political strategies to benefit the government.