Following a landslide victory for former San Salvador mayor, Nayib Bukele, in Sunday's presidential election, Clare Dixon, CAFOD's Head of Latin America, who was in the country during the election and met with CAFOD's church partners, has written the following comment:
El Salvador's new president must champion peace to help heal the country.
I met with the Director of Caritas El Salvador, Antonio Baños, and he told me that "uncertain times lie ahead for El Salvador and that it is possible that the endemic violence in the country could increase in the wake of this result."
Salvadorans have lost faith in the two-party politics which have left the country deeply polarised. The turnout of voters was unusually low for a Presidential election with only around half of the population bothering to vote.
Although he won the Presidency with an overwhelming majority in the first round, crushing the two traditional political parties, Bukele has little support in the country's Legislative Assembly, its Parliament.
His ability to bring in meaningful reforms will depend on how successful he is in persuading other political leaders to support his programme. The future is unpredictable but the next two years will be crucial in determining whether Salvadorans can look forward to a brighter future.
Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador and President of Caritas, said that the principal challenge for the new President, who will not take up his post until June, is to overcome the murderous violence and bring peace for the people of El Salvador.
The Cardinal congratulated the peaceful way in which the defeated parties had accepted the election result and added that the newly elected President needed to work to reconcile all sectors of the country. The fight against poverty, against corruption and impunity, are the other challenges to be tackled.
"A profound renewal is needed," he said.
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