Bukele gets rock-star welcome, blasts press at US conservative summit

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By LatAm Reports Editor

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, criticized his country’s press on Thursday and echoed conspiracy theories during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a mega event that brings together politicians and right-wing activists inside and outside the U.S.

Bukele, who was greeted among cheers by dozens of conference attendees, also defended his controversial victory in the country’s past presidential and legislative elections, where he received 84 percent of support amid allegations of irregularities by the opposition.

“We had free and fair elections and we achieved a landslide victory (…) the people of El Salvador have already awakened and you can too,” said the Salvadoran politician.

During his speech, the president of the Central American country criticized the Salvadoran press on several occasions, accusing it of being false news – and of receiving funding from Hungarian billionaire George Soros and the global “elites.”

Democracy needs a free press, but report on the facts and not be puppets of those who finance them, the president said.

Soros is a common target not only of Bukele but of several politicians, especially from the far right, in both the US and Europe. The U.S. organization Anti Defamation League has denounced that the criticisms of Soros and the conspiracy theories that point to it replicate long-standing anti-Semitic myths.

Bukele’s intervention at CPAC, where he in turn defended his governance and encouraged Americans to follow El Salvador’s example, comes days after his country’s Electoral Tribunal ratified its controversial victory in the elections.

On February 18, the TSE gave the final scrutiny of the legislative elections, a week after its inception and amid multiple allegations of irregularities.

Dozens of Salvadoran migrants approached the Gaylord Convention Center and Hotel on Thursday, where CPAC is held, to show support and listen to the Central American president’s speech.

The president’s speech was interrupted on several occasions by cries of Bukele, Bukele, and we love you, who were buzzing from the audience.

Among the crowd was Juana Reyes, a Salvadoran based in the U.S. and a waitress at the hotel where the conference is held. Wearing a bright blue shirt stamped on Bukele’s face under his uniform and accompanied by three other hotel employees, the woman approached to listen to the caller the best president in the world.

I didn’t know anything about the presidents, or politics, we’re in politics now. “We are proud to see this president,” the Salvadoran told EFE.

Among the viewers were also Americans, like Victor Timoshenko, a New York-based lawyer of Russian descent, who in turn wore a Bukele shirt but hanging his arm.

“Bukele sounds more like president than any other American president I’ve ever seen in the last 40 years,” the man said. He’s the first president to have common sense, like any other in the U.S. and the West.

CPAC, which will last until the weekend, takes place outside Washington D.C.

The last time Bukele visited the U.S. capital was in 2021, shortly after President Joe Biden took office.

The president has no official agenda in the U.S., sources from the embassy told EFE, except for his time today at CPAC.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Mundo