In his recent address to the United Nations, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador delivered a powerful message that reverberates far beyond his country’s borders. The central theme of his speech can be encapsulated in a single phrase: “Embrace Sovereignty and Courage for Transformation.” Bukele’s impassioned words highlighted the remarkable journey of El Salvador from a nation plagued by violence and insecurity to one on the cusp of a brighter, more prosperous future.
President Bukele began by emphasizing the importance of renewal and reinvention, not only for international organizations like the UN but also for countries facing similar challenges. He reiterated that these words were not empty rhetoric but a reflection of his sincere belief and the transformative actions taking place in El Salvador.
El Salvador, like many developing nations, has long harbored dreams of greatness. Yet, for decades, these aspirations seemed unattainable. The country grappled with staggering violence and was once considered the most dangerous place in the world. However, Bukele’s administration decided to defy the odds and reject the destiny others had imposed on them.
Four years into his presidency, El Salvador has made remarkable strides towards achieving its dream of greatness. It has transitioned from being the global homicide capital to the safest country in Latin America, a tangible reality experienced by Salvadorans every day. This transformation has captured the world’s attention, particularly in Latin America and the United States, prompting many to wonder why similar changes cannot occur in their countries.
Bukele’s unequivocal response is that nations must assert their right to make their own decisions and craft their unique paths. He stressed that no country has the authority to impose its ideas or solutions, especially when those approaches have failed in the past. The key ingredient he identified for all recipes of success is courage—the determination to do what must be done, even in the face of criticism and opposition.
The Salvadoran president recounted a history of attempting various solutions, from civil war to false peace agreements and prolonged periods of political polarization. Foreign powers had often dictated these approaches, leading to devastating consequences. Bukele asserted that they were essentially given poison instead of medicine. It was only when El Salvador chose to follow its own path, to prioritize the well-being of its people, that true change began to happen.
Bukele described a series of critical decisions taken by his government to address the country’s most urgent issue: insecurity. They purged corrupt officials from the justice system, changed laws to prevent terrorists from being released, and encountered international condemnation. However, these decisions led to a remarkable reduction in crime, making El Salvador not only the safest country in the region but also a model for others to follow.
The President underscored the importance of individual nations taking charge of their destinies and resisting external pressures to maintain the status quo. He pointed out that this sovereignty allowed El Salvador to open its doors to the world, hosting international events, fostering tourism, and attracting investments.
Bukele shared a vision of reversing the massive Salvadoran diaspora, with over 60% of Salvadorans in the United States expressing an intention to return home. While acknowledging the challenges ahead, he cited UN studies that predicted a return of Salvadorans to their homeland. The President highlighted El Salvador’s growing international partnerships and its role as an example for other nations seeking to reclaim their sovereignty.
President Nayib Bukele’s message to the world is clear: when nations embrace sovereignty and have the courage to chart their own course, transformation and progress become possible. El Salvador’s journey from violence to safety and prosperity stands as a testament to the power of self-determination and the potential for renewal on a global scale. As Bukele aptly put it, “El Salvador is rebirthing, and we are showing the way for others who may want to embark on this journey.”