China Ties Work to Bukele’s Advantage in El Salvador’s Upcoming Election

Photo: Nayib Bukele. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

This article was originally published on The Diplomat, this is merely an abstract. To read the full piece please visit:

This coming February 4th El Salvador will head to the polls in its general election, where it’s expected that current president Nayib Bukele will be reelected. The current president has some particularities that make him a singular case in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). For instance, he is the most popular politician across the region, known and praised locally as well as regionally for his efficiency in dealing with the country’s criminal gangs, which until recently controlled most of the country. However, there is another important reason behind Bukele’s likely reelection: the support of the People’s Republic of China   (PRC). 

This piece, originally published in The Diplomat, highlights how some high impact projects financed or donated by the PRC to El Salvador, have been used by the Bukele’s presidential campaign to promote his image of competency. This strategy has been successful, despite none of these infrastructure projects actually being built by the Salvadoran government. 

El Salvador’s case is another one in which Chinese investments in the region have been successful, at least, to improve the image of the Asian country among Latin-Americans. There are no doubts that Chinese calculations about Bukele’s government have considered the vast popularity of the politician and his total control of the country, especially the management of the main institutions such as the Parliament or the Supreme Court.

This last idea reflects the core debate regarding the Chinese-Salvadorian rapprochement: How could China’s engagement with the region affect the liberal democratic model? For now, the answer is not too clear, but the Salvadorian case offers an idea of how Chinese financing could be used to obtain political benefits and maintain a quasi-authoritarian regime of their interest in power.

To read more about how China’s presence in El Salvador could shape the country’s presidential election, read the full article published by The Diplomat by following this link: