Reordamiento: How San Salvador Upstart Mayor Challenges His City
San Salvador is both the political and homicide capital of El Salvador, a country that suffers a new wave of violence and crime since a two-year-old gang truce in early 2014. Gangs come to the market to recruit kids to join their ranks, or to collect renta—a euphemism for extortion money—from vendors and stores, or to menace and, when they deem it necessary, to kill, reports VQR magazine. In an attempt to solve the problem, San Salvador’s young mayor, Nayib Bukele, has decided to dismantle it.
At 33, and with just three years of experience in public service, Bukele won the most important mayoral seat in the country in 2015. Previous mayors have attempted to physically remove unregistered vendors from Mercado Central. His plan of Reordamiento (the Reordering) also calls for the revitalization of the city center, where the country’s oldest and most majestic buildings—including the city’s main cathedral and the national theater and library—stand in disrepair. Such an aggressive embrace of gentrification is Bukele’s way of addressing a fundamental disconnect between the rich and poor in Salvadoran culture, which he sees as one of the root causes of the country’s violence. If you know your neighbors, Bukele explains, you won’t try to kill one another.
"Change the structural inequities, and peace and prosperity will follow", says Bukele. To do this requires not just money, but a “hidden project of inspiration,” that is, the degree to which he can convince Salvadorans that their country has the potential for greatness.
As reported in VQR Magazine.