Ibero-American leaders making history: Nayib Bukele, Javier Milei and Daniel Noboa

What do Presidents Bukele, Milei and Noboa have in common? They are young, outside the traditional political elite, and have gained immense popularity among voters because of their ability to generate enthusiasm and mobilisation. This is especially crucial because traditional political systems encounter various obstacles, including corruption, insecurity, widespread inequality, poverty, and organised crime.

Certain media outlets, aligned with what is mislabelled as progressiveness, prioritise perspectives aligned with ideas of social justice, identity politics, and addressing systemic inequalities in their reporting and framing of issues, which leads to their criticism. They do this because of their popularity and effective governance.

President Nayib Bukele of Salvador

Nayib Bukele won re-election as president of El Salvador in a landslide in 2024, securing around 60% of the votes cast. Under his leadership, El Salvador’s economy grew at one of the fastest rates in Latin America, benefiting from his business-friendly policies and efforts to tackle corruption and gang violence that had hampered investment.

One of his many controversial but effective decisions that made global headlines was to make Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador in 2021. The move paid off by attracting crypto investors and businesses to the country.

His administration invested heavily in modernising El Salvador’s infrastructure, such as roads, internet connectivity and renewable energy projects, which were seen as pro-development. One of the pillars of his popular government has been his tough anti-corruption image, with several former presidents accused of corruption being jailed, which has resonated with many Salvadorans frustrated by cronyism.

Implementing these policies has led to a remarkable economic recovery and transformation, attracting significant foreign investment thanks to the legal security guaranteed to investors. These achievements are behind President Bukele’s historic re-election on 4 February, backed by overwhelming support from his fellow citizens for a second presidential term.

At 41, the baseball cap-wearing president is a youthful, modern leader who is in touch with the people’s concerns by delivering economic success and projecting a refreshing image. His immense popularity has put him in the media spotlight as he embodies the possibility of a future that Salvadorans have been unable to find. As a man of our times, an efficient CEO capable of transforming and improving the brilliant company (El Salvador) entrusted to him, he embodies the possibility of a future that Salvadorans have been unable to find.

At 36, Daniel Noboa is the youngest of this extraordinary trio of leaders who are reshaping the political panorama of Ibero-America. His family runs a business empire that includes a major banana company, and he dramatically appeals to young people. He took office on 23 November 2023 after winning a snap election following a complicated political situation with President Lasso’s resignation and candidate Villavicencio’s assassination. 

President Daniel Noboa of Ecuador

His main priorities for the next 18 months are to reduce violence, tackle youth unemployment and focus on employment in general. He has stressed the urgency of delivering tangible results in the face of public fatigue and high expectations, particularly among the youth. He stressed the need for financial equality, pointing to women’s disparities in access to credit and higher interest rates. He stressed the importance of fighting discrimination in economic opportunities, citing initiatives such as working with the Banking Superintendency to regulate and address these issues. 

Contrary to expectations, the youngest president in Ecuador’s history understood that the change ordinary citizens want comes from something other than political organisations but from concrete action in a country plagued by crime and economic problems. Following the example of President Bukele, Daniel Noboa understood the importance of creating security and coexistence in a country beset by criminal organisations. Working with the military, which progressive governments had previously restricted, he implemented measures using technology and authority to combat crime.

He declared a nationwide state of emergency and placed military forces and institutions in charge throughout the country, including prisons. The results of these measures are already evident. They instilled confidence in the population and laid the foundations for rebuilding a democracy that will challenge political parties to rethink their strategies.

President Noboa now faces the task of rebuilding the country’s economy. With an approval rating of 80%, he can tackle it. Although his mandate to govern ends in May 2025, all the signs are that he will be re-elected and able to transform his country, offering Ecuador political renewal, youth, hope and a contrast to the political violence with a simple and non-confrontational discourse. He has a clear mandate from the people to resolve a very complex national reality, and his first duty is to offer the country a government that will resolve the enormous difficulties and challenges of a magnitude that few understand.

Javier Milei, who is 52, represents a generational change in Argentina’s ageing political class. He took office on 10 December 2023. He is known for his flamboyant personality, distinctive personal style, and intense media presence. A self-described libertarian, he offered hope to Argentine voters who had suffered decades of institutional corruption under successive Peronist governments, which were veritable mafia organisations. Milei has proposed a significant overhaul of the country’s fiscal and structural policies. He supports freedom of choice on drug policy, firearms, sex work and same-sex marriage while opposing abortion and euthanasia.

President Milei of Argentina

He has generated much enthusiasm and support for his anti-establishment stance, portraying himself as an outsider who will disrupt the traditional political establishment in Argentina. He has brought hope to voters disillusioned with corruption and the status quo.

Milei, an economist, strongly advocates unrestrained market capitalism, deregulation, drastic cuts in government spending and privatisation as the only remedy for Argentina’s economic stagnation. His bold, unfiltered style and rejection of politically correct norms appeal to those weary of establishment propriety.

Following in the footsteps of Presidents Bukele and Noboa, his tough-on-crime rhetoric and promises to tackle drug trafficking and urban violence resonate amid concerns about public safety. His supporters see his outsider status and rhetoric against entrenched interests as a sign that he can disrupt the corrupt practices that are the cancer of Argentina. He promised hardship and austerity to root out Kirchnerism, awakening and inflation. Now, he and his supporters are standing their ground, appealing to their supposed intellectual honesty with the electorate.

Despite the hardships suffered by Argentines, Milei remains the country’s most popular politician by a healthy margin. He is banking on being the man who, with simple slogans, can win over a society battered by inflation and disillusioned by the loss of the benefits of its glorious past, which inspired such admiration in other parts of the world a century ago.

These leaders have regional appeal, and their policies are popular and followed by politicians in the region. This seems to be a new political paradigm in Latin America, from Colombia to Paraguay. Unlike traditional politicians in our democracies, these leaders do not follow the principle of governing to please all voters and political allies but have adopted a different approach.

Unlike the old practices that led to the exhaustion and loss of credibility of the traditional way of governing, these new leaders have emerged in response to the persistent malaise and need for change in the political landscape. They aim to provide practical solutions, even if their governing method needs to leave aside more politically correct styles by established standards. Ibero-America needs more leaders such as these. It would be the hope for Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, just to mention a few. Bukele, Noboa and Milei will lead the way to the new generation of anti-politicians. Despite their negative portrayal by the globalist mainstream media and their sponsors, they have the backing of the voters and are making history.

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