Nayib Bukele

President of El Salvador Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front Francisco Dueñas

Nayib Bukele
46th President of El Salvador
Assumed office
1 June 2019
Vice PresidentFélix Ulloa
Preceded bySalvador Sánchez Cerén
Mayor of San Salvador
In office
1 May 2015 – 30 April 2018
Preceded byNorman Quijano
Succeeded byErnesto Muyshondt
Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán
In office
1 May 2012 – 30 April 2015
Preceded byÁlvaro Rodríguez
Succeeded byMichelle Sol
Personal details
Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez

(1981-07-24) 24 July 1981 (age 39)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political partyNuevas Ideas (2019–present)
Other political
GANA (2018–2019)
CD (2018)
FMLN (2012–2017)
(m. 2014)
ChildrenLayla Bukele
CabinetCabinet of Nayib Bukele

Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez (born 24 July 1981) is a Salvadoran politician and businessman who is the 46th and current President of El Salvador since 1 June 2019 after winning the 2019 election. Nayib Bukele ran as the candidate of the centre-right GANA party and became the first president since José Napoleón Duarte (1984–1989) not to have been elected as the candidate of one of the country's two major political parties, the FMLN and ARENA. He is also the founder of the political party Nuevas Ideas.

He was previously elected mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán on 11 March 2012. He was also elected mayor of San Salvador on 1 March 2015, and took office on 1 May 2015. He contested and won the elections to both public offices under the banner of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front party.[1]

During his presidency he has been criticized by the opposition of governing in an authoritarian manner, especially after sending soldiers into the Legislative Assembly to encourage the passage of a bill.[2] This action, his handling of endemic violence in El Salvador, and his strict response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led some academics to describe him as an autocrat.[3]

Early life

Nayib Bukele was born on 24 July 1981, in San Salvador. He is a son of Olga Ortez de Bukele and Armando Bukele Kattán. According to The Times of Israel, Bukele's paternal grandparents were Palestinian Christians from Jerusalem and Bethlehem while his maternal grandmother was Catholic and his maternal grandfather was Greek Orthodox. "His father later converted to Islam and became an imam". "Nayib" is a hispanicized version of the Arabic name "Najib."

Nayib founded his first company at age 18.[4] An article in the digital newspaper El Faro (newspaper that is known for having close ties with political parties of FMLN & ARENA) said that Nayib Bukele owns Yamaha Motors El Salvador,[5] a company that sells and distributes Yamaha products in El Salvador.[6] He was also the Director and President of OBERMET, S.A. DE C.V.[7]

Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán

On 11 March 2012, he was elected mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán, in the department of La Libertad, representing a coalition of the FMLN with 2754 votes (49.72%) and CD 108 votes (1.95%), for a total of 2862 votes (50.68%), defeating the incumbent ARENA party, which won 2585 votes (46.67%). He took office on 1 May 2012.[8]

Mayor of San Salvador

Bukele at the beatification of Óscar Romero, with then-vice president Óscar Ortiz and his wife.

In the municipal elections of 2015, he won the mayoralty of San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, representing a coalition of the FMLN with the PSP that won 89,164 votes (50.37% of total). His main challenger, businessman and former deputy Edwin Zamora (ARENA), won 82,288 votes (46.49%). The latter party had controlled the city during the previous six years. Bukele took office on 1 May 2015.[9] In February 2017, Bukele visited Taipei city, the capital of Taiwan, and met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.[10]

In February 2018, he attended the 32nd International Mayors Conference in Jerusalem,[11] where he was seen praying at the Western Wall,[12] and revealed that his wife's grandfather was a Sephardic Jew.[13]

Expulsion from the FMLN

On 10 October 2017, Nayib Bukele was expelled from the FMLN, accused by the FMLN Ethics Tribunal of promoting internal division and performing defamatory acts against the political party. Nayib challenged these Acts from FMLN that were unethical and corrupt, illuminating much of the wrongdoing that FMLN had done over the years, including acts from former president Funes.[14][15] Nayib Bukele did not attend the hearing scheduled for 7 October 2017 by the FMLN Ethics Tribunal, arguing that they were biased in favor of the plaintiffs.[16]

Election as President

After Bukele's expulsion from the FMLN, his aspirations towards 2019 moved in the direction of participating in the presidential elections as an independent who rejects the current political system.[17] Nayib Bukele started the movement Nuevas Ideas ("New Ideas") with the goal of making it a political party where he could run as a candidate for the presidency of El Salvador.[18]

Following the announcement of his presidential aspirations, he was opposed by both the ruling FMLN party on the political left, and ARENA on the right as they blocked any attempts for him to found his own political party and politically cancelled any party that he has attempted to use for his candidacy, as they did so with Cambio Democrático. Arena and FMLN have now joined together (in and outside of the assembly) to challenge all of the actions and proposals that Bukele attempts to implement. Nayib eventually joined the centre-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) party to mount his presidential bid.[19]

On 3 February 2019, Bukele announced that he had won the presidential elections at ease. Challenger Hugo Martínez of the FMLN conceded defeat. He won 53% of the vote, thereby eliminating the need for a run-off election. He is the first candidate to win the presidency since the end of the Salvadoran Civil War who did not represent either of the major two parties. In his victory speech he declared, “Today we have turned the page on the postwar period."[20] Bukele assumed office on 1 June 2019.[21] Bukele announced a cabinet of sixteen people made up of eight men and eight women. One of the last to be appointed was Maria Luisa Hayem who was the Minister of the Economy. They will serve until 2024.[22]


In the face of parliamentary opposition to a bill increasing funding to the police and armed forces, Bukele called on his supporters to rally, leading to armed forces occupying the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador[23].[24] Nayib begun his presidency with a high approval rate. But since the beginning of his government there were clear indications of corruption[25] that has only become more and more evident in the eyes of Salvadoran citizens and the international community[26].

The investigative website "El Faro" revealed in September 2020 that President Bukele secretly negotiated a deal with the most powerful gang in the country, the Mara Salvatrucha. In return for more flexible prison conditions for its members and other promises, the gang reportedly pledged to reduce the number of murders and to support Nayib Bukele's political party during the elections.[27]

Personal life

Bukele with wife Gabriela Rodríguez at a government event. (2014)

Although Nayib was born into a Christian household, his father converted to Islam later in life. As the son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, Bukele's religious beliefs were a controversial subject in the 2019 election,[28] with an image surfacing showing Bukele praying at the mosque in Mexico City.[29] The Times of Israel published an image dated February 2018 of Bukele "in deep reflection at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City."[30]

Bukele has publicly stated that his family is Roman Catholic and that while his father and several other family members have converted to Islam,[29] he considers himself a believer in God first rather than religion.[31] In a 2015 interview he said that "I am not a person who believes much in the liturgy of religions. However, I believe in God, in Jesus Christ. I believe in his word, I believe in his word revealed in the Holy Bible. And I know that God does not reject anyone because of their origins.” In a 2019 Facebook post Bukele stated that he's “not religious".[30]

He married Gabriela Rodríguez, "a psychologist and educator", in December 2014. In 2018, Bukele told the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, that Rodríguez has "Jewish-Sephardic blood".[30]


  1. ^ "Biografía". Nayib Bukele. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Nayib Bukele's military stunt raises alarming memories in El Salvador". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Nayib Bukele el Capitalista mas Popular de la Izquierda Salvadoreña". Archived from the original on 14 October 2018. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  5. ^ Labrador, Gabriel (20 August 2014). "El FMLN abre la puerta grande a Nayib Bukele". El Faro. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Yamaha Motor El Salvador". Yamaha Motors El Salvador. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Elecciones El Salvador 2012 - Concejos Municipales - LA LIBERTAD - NUEVO CUSCATLAN". Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Resultados de Concejos Municipales - TSE". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  10. ^ President Tsai meets Mayor Nayib Bukele of San Salvador 總統接見薩爾瓦多共和國首都聖薩爾瓦多市市長布格磊, Taiwanese Presidential Office, 23 February 2017
  11. ^ "His dad was an imam, his wife has Jewish roots: Meet El Salvador's new leader". The Times of Israel. 7 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Salvadorians elect friend of Israel as their next president". Israel Hayom. 5 February 2019.
  13. ^ "El Salvador's new President is a Palestinian and pro-Israel". Christians United for Israel. 6 February 2019.
  14. ^ "FMLN expulsa a Bukele del partido". El Diario de Hoy. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Nayib Bukele, expulsado del FMLN por estas razones". La Prensa Gráfica. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  16. ^ Rauda Zablah, Nelson; Arauz, Sergio; Valencia, Roberto (7 October 2017). "Medardo González: "No podemos creer en alguien que está con nosotros sólo por interés electorero"" [Medardo González: "We cannot believe in someone who is with us only for electoral interest"]. El Faro (in Spanish).
  17. ^ "El Salvador's New Savior - Upside Down World". Upside Down World. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  18. ^ "El futuro de Nuevas Ideas y situación de la Alcaldía". Nayib Bukele. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  19. ^ Esposito, Anthony (18 December 2018). "El Salvador populist holds lead weeks ahead of presidential vote". Reuters. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  20. ^ Palumbo, Gene; Malkin, Elisabeth (3 February 2019). "Nayib Bukele, an Outsider Candidate, Claims Victory in El Salvador Election". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  21. ^ Feb 03, Thomson Reuters · Posted; February 4, 2019 10:15 PM ET | Last Updated. "Anti-corruption campaigner set to become El Salvador's next president | CBC News". CBC.
  22. ^ "María Luisa Hayem Brevé, nueva ministra de Economía, la octava mujer en el gabinete de Bukele". Noticias de El Salvador - (in Spanish). 2 June 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Heavily-armed police and soldiers enter El Salvador parliament". BBC News. 10 February 2020.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Rodríguez Martínez, Marta; Oelsner, Natalia (1 February 2019). "El Salvador: A 'millennial' mayor the favourite to win the next presidential elections". Euro News. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Polémica por imágenes de Bukele en oración dentro de una mMezquita". Redacción DEM (in Spanish). El Mundo. 8 January 2019. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  30. ^ a b c Ahren, Raphael (7 February 2019). "His dad was an imam, his wife has Jewish roots: Meet El Salvador's new leader". The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  31. ^ Aleman, Marcos (30 January 2019). "AP Interview: El Salvador's leading candidate targets graft". The Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.