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Bukele; or, The Search for a Saviour

Recommended, via MR.

The Nationalist Republican Alliance, or ARENA, founded by the far-right death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson, and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or FMLN, initially formed as a revolutionary army by exiled Salvadorans hosted by Fidel Castro in Havana, became the two main parties alternating in power in a nominally liberal-democratic system.

This was El Salvador’s End of History, in which the violent ideological antagonisms of the 20th century were supposed to give way to peace and prosperity under the benign imperium of the World Trade Organization, which the country joined in 1995.

But the brutality of the earlier era reasserted itself in the post-ideological form of teenage gang members deported from the United States. These lost children of the civil war proceeded to subject their country to a bloodletting that was even more staggering and senseless than the one their parents had fled—and that successive governments were unable to stop.

The power exerted by gangs amounted to an acutely oppressive form of neoliberal privatization of public space, in which those who couldn’t afford walled compounds and private guards found their lives dictated by the whims of organized crime.

Bukele’s Kingdom of Dreams

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