The photo of Óscar Martinez and his daughter, who drowned trying to reach the United States shook the world. Many have blamed President Donald Trump and American policies, but El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, elected in February, took the blame. From the BBC:

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to,” he told the BBC in the capital, San Salvador.

“Why? Because they don’t have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don’t have basic things like water, education, health.

“We can blame any other country but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States? They fled El Salvador, they fled our country. It is our fault.”

Martinez and his wife lived with his mother-in-law when they decided their jobs “at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier would never provide enough money to be able to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.”

Bukele became president last month. He has blamed officials because no one has lowered the crime rate, helped the economic problems, or ended the government corruption.

The BBC listed the problems in El Salvador:

  • In 2016, 1 in 10 Salvadoreans had no access to drinking water or sanitation service, according to the UN
  • Almost one-third of the country lives below the national poverty line
  • In 2015, El Salvador had the highest murder rate in the world but the latest official data indicates that the rate has been falling since then
  • The number of Salvadoreans apprehended at the US border has increased significantly in recent months. In the fiscal year to October 2018 the figure was 31,369. Since then, it has nearly doubled.

Bukele does not approve of the treatment of migrants in America, but stressed that El Salvador has to fix the country, so people do not feel the need to flee:

He went on to say that he did condemn the treatment of migrants in the US and in Mexico, but reiterated that El Salvador had to “focus on making our country better, making our country a place where nobody has to migrate.”

“I think migration is a right, but it should be an option, not an obligation. And right now it’s an obligation for a lot of people.”

Bukele’s remarks are a change from other leaders in the past because many have not tried to stop people from migrating to America since those people will send money back to the country. The New York Times reported that “Salvadorans abroad sent nearly $5.5 billion in remittances to El Salvador, equivalent to about 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank” in 2018. Around 1.4 million Salvadorans reside in America.

Bukele stated that he wants to work with Trump “to improve relations with the United States.” However, he knows that he has to tackle problems at home “to curb the outflow of Salvadorans.” The New York Times continued:

“They feel it is safer to cross a desert, three frontiers, and all of the things that may happen in the road to the United States because they feel that’s more secure than living here,” he said. “So we want to make our country safer.”

He also vowed to address the poverty and lack of employment opportunities that so many migrants cite as their reason for fleeing.

“We will make a country that is more prosperous and that can provide decent paying jobs for all of our people,” he said. “So if people have an opportunity for a decent job, a decent education, a decent health care system and security, I know that forceful migration will be reduced to zero.”

Bukele said the way our government handles migration, which is not exclusive to Trump’s administration, is not the way to stop migration.

He is 100% correct. The way to stop migration is to make a country healthy and economically stable. Why else do you think all those celebrities stayed in America after they declared they would move if President George W. Bush or Trump won the presidency? Because America rocks.


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