El Salvador’s New President Is Using Twitter to Literally Run His Government

Jun 6, 2019
3:55 PM

In the first six days since his inauguration, El Salvador’s newest president, 37-year-old Nayib Bukele, seems to be running a social media government. He was elected last February, with over 53% of the popular vote, and since last Saturday’s inauguration, he has taken to Twitter to publicly run his country.

To many, the centrist politician’s win represents a new era in El Salvador, as he is the first president since the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992 to not represent either of the two major political parties, far left FMLN (which was in power) and the far-right ARENA.

Many Salvadorans are drawn to his young, vibrant charisma and social media savviness, praising his methods to reach out to voters. During his campaign, he would live stream from his living room to promote his stances and criticize the government in power.

Now, he’s using Twitter to not only reach his constituents but to publicize policies and demand resignations.

As his first order of business as president, he tweeted out to the Salvadoran Armed Forces, demanding they remove the name of Domingo Monterrosa, a military commander during the Civil War singled out as the author of the El Mozote Massacre (the deadliest massacre in modern Latin American history), from a famous military barrack.

“I am ordering the @FUERZARMADASV to immediately remove the name of Colonel Domingo Monterrosa from the Third Infantry Brigade Barracks in San Miguel,” tweeted Bukele on Saturday evening, mere hours after his inauguration.

The following morning, pictures surfaced on social media of soldiers removing the name from a wall at the barracks. Praise on social media immediately followed, with some saying that Bukele achieved in one day what the previous party, FMLN, could not during the years they were in power, and that this order symbolized reparations to victims of the Civil War.

On June 2, Bukele tweeted the dissolution of five government offices who were believed to be excused from the previous government to pay friends and family members. In a bold move, he also said he asked every minister to hand in a letter of resignation.

“I have also asked all the ministers for their letters of resignation, which I will keep in my office, as a reminder that everyone should always do what is best for the people. Otherwise, they will be replaced,” Bukele tweeted.

During the following days, Bukele’s Twitter was nonstop. He began tweeting orders to terminate positions belonging to agency chiefs from the former government (mostly family members and friends of ex-president Salvador Sánchez Cerén and his staff), making the layoffs process as public as possible. Dozens of tweets like the one below drew out over the course of the next days.

“The Minister of Security @RogelioRivasSS is ordered, to remove from her $2,500 position the General Director of Intermediate Centers, Irma Mejía Mejía, daughter-in-law of former President Sánchez Cerén. Promote a subordinate with credentials to assume the position and save that amount.”

Many on social media are praising his apparent transparency for government decisions. Memes are also popping up.

None of this means that Bukele is not at fault. Salvadoran newspaper El Faro pointed out that while in the past he had criticized Sánchez Cerén for hiring friends and family, Bukele has already appointed dozens of family members, friends, and former business associated to positions in his cabinet.


Natalia Rodríguez Medina is the 2019 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She is a member the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY’s Class of 2019. Natalia tweets from @nataliarodmed