El Salvador Knew Bukele Was Brash. But His Military Show of Force Was Ominous

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, flanked by members of the armed forces, addresses his supporters outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).
El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, flanked by members of the armed forces, addresses his supporters outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).

Last Sunday, as the red carpet arrivals began at the Oscars, a scene out of a Hollywood thriller unfolded far away in the capital of El Salvador. Dozens of police officers and soldiers in full battlefield regalia, armed with assault weapons, burst into the country’s Legislative Assembly. Stunned legislators watched as President Nayib Bukele marched in and sat in the chair of the president of the assembly. “Now,” he declared, “I think it’s very clear who has control of the situation.” Outside the legislature, Bukele’s followers, summoned by their young, charismatic leader, were smashing pinatas meant to look like his […]

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