{"code":"24542","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"21090","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202006\/el_salvador\/24542","link_edit":"","name":"The Bukele Clan that Rules with Nayib","slug":"the-bukele-clan-that-rules-with-nayib","info":"Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef Bukele Ortez constitute the most influential circle of power surrounding President Nayib Bukele. The three men are his brothers, sons of Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n and Olga Ortez, and, together with the president, are four of Bukele Katt\u00e1n\u2019s 10 children. Although they don\u2019t officially hold public office, numerous sources and even they themselves confirm that they\u2019re the main strategists, lobbyists, and emissaries of this administration. The Bukele administration, which has recently completed a year in office, is controlled by a family clan that includes other relatives of the president working in various spheres and key decision-making positions. Leer en espa\u00f1ol","mtag":"Transparency","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/jalvarado'\u003E Jimmy Alvarado\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/glabrador'\u003E Gabriel Labrador\u003C\/span\u003E y \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/sarauz'\u003E Sergio Arauz\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"jimmy-alvarado":{"sort":"jalvarado","slug":"jimmy-alvarado","path":"jimmy_alvarado","name":"Jimmy Alvarado","edge":"0","init":"0"},"gabriel-labrador":{"sort":"glabrador","slug":"gabriel-labrador","path":"gabriel_labrador","name":"Gabriel Labrador","edge":"0","init":"1"},"sergio-arauz":{"sort":"sarauz","slug":"sergio-arauz","path":"sergio_arauz","name":"Sergio Arauz","edge":"1","init":"0"}}},"view":"21090","pict":{"cms-image-000033886-jpeg":{"feat":"1","sort":"33886","name":"cms-image-000033886.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033886.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033886.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033886-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">Nayib Bukele\u2019s mother, Olga Ortez, and his brothers Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef (from right to left) at the president\u2019s inauguration on June 1, 2019. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENayib Bukele\u2019s mother, Olga Ortez, and his brothers Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef (from right to left) at the president\u2019s inauguration on June 1, 2019. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033887-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33887","name":"cms-image-000033887.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033887.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033887.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033887-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">Karim Bukele, in the light gray jacket, was the administration\u2019s spokesperson in talks with private enterprise, and on May 5 lobbied the legislature to pass emergency response laws. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EKarim Bukele, in the light gray jacket, was the administration\u2019s spokesperson in talks with private enterprise, and on May 5 lobbied the legislature to pass emergency response laws. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033888-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33888","name":"cms-image-000033888.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033888.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033888.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033888-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">In a January 2015 television debate leading up to the municipal elections, then FMLN mayoral candidate, Nayib Bukele, listens to instructions from Ernesto Sanabria (now his Press Secretary), and his brother, Karim (gray jacket). Photo by Fred Ramos\/El Faro archive.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn a January 2015 television debate leading up to the municipal elections, then FMLN mayoral candidate, Nayib Bukele, listens to instructions from Ernesto Sanabria (now his Press Secretary), and his brother, Karim (gray jacket). Photo by Fred Ramos\/El Faro archive.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033889-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33889","name":"cms-image-000033889.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033889.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033889.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033889-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">\u201cHigh tension in the situation room... Although I still believe the FMLN will win,\u201d wrote Nayib Bukele in his Facebook post of this photo, the night of March 9, 2014. This was the day of the presidential runoff that Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n ultimately won. Bukele was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n at the time. Also pictured in the photo is his brother, Karim, and his cousin, Xavier Zablah, current president of Nuevas Ideas. Photo available on Nayib Bukele\u2019s official Facebook page.\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cHigh tension in the situation room... Although I still believe the FMLN will win,\u201d wrote Nayib Bukele in his Facebook post of this photo, the night of March 9, 2014. This was the day of the presidential runoff that Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n ultimately won. Bukele was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n at the time. Also pictured in the photo is his brother, Karim, and his cousin, Xavier Zablah, current president of Nuevas Ideas. Photo available on Nayib Bukele\u2019s official Facebook page.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033890-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33890","name":"cms-image-000033890.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033890.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033890.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033890-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">Ibrajim Bukele\u2019s trip to Turkey in August 2019 as a special guest of the Minister of Foreign Relations was paid from public funds. He was introduced there as an advisor to the president. This photo was published August 22, 2019 on social media by DEIK, a Turkish business association. Ibrajim Bukele is pictured greeting one of the DEIK executives. Photo published by DEIK.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIbrajim Bukele\u2019s trip to Turkey in August 2019 as a special guest of the Minister of Foreign Relations was paid from public funds. He was introduced there as an advisor to the president. This photo was published August 22, 2019 on social media by DEIK, a Turkish business association. Ibrajim Bukele is pictured greeting one of the DEIK executives. Photo published by DEIK.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033891-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33891","name":"cms-image-000033891.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033891.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033891.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033891-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">Above, from left to right, Nayib Bukele Ortez, Emerson Bukele Quintanilla, Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez, Dayana Bukele Platero, Olga Ortez, Karim Bukele Ortez, Yamile Bukele Centeno, Ibrajim Bukele Ortez and Yusef Bukele Ortez. Sitting, Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n. Photo available on Emerson Bukele\u2019s Facebook page and Twitter account.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAbove, from left to right, Nayib Bukele Ortez, Emerson Bukele Quintanilla, Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez, Dayana Bukele Platero, Olga Ortez, Karim Bukele Ortez, Yamile Bukele Centeno, Ibrajim Bukele Ortez and Yusef Bukele Ortez. Sitting, Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n. Photo available on Emerson Bukele\u2019s Facebook page and Twitter account.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000033892-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"33892","name":"cms-image-000033892.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033892.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033892.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033892-jpeg","text":"<p dir=\"ltr\">Several officials from the current administration graduated from the Escuela Panamericana, including the president himself. In the top row, from left to right, are the three inseparable friends: Nayib Bukele, Federico Anliker (current CEPA president), and Fernando L\u00f3pez (current Environment Minister). Photo available on the Escuela Panamericana yearbook website.\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESeveral officials from the current administration graduated from the Escuela Panamericana, including the president himself. In the top row, from left to right, are the three inseparable friends: Nayib Bukele, Federico Anliker (current CEPA president), and Fernando L\u00f3pez (current Environment Minister). Photo available on the Escuela Panamericana yearbook website.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":33886,"date":{"live":"2020\/06\/17"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"06","data_post_dateLive_DD":"17","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter defeating the two opposing political and ideological forces that had ruled El Salvador since the end of the Cold War, Nayib Bukele took office in June 2019. Nearing his 39th birthday, he is the most popular president in the country\u2019s democratic history. He is well-known for his communication skills, conspicuous selfies, confrontations with the other branches of government, surprising success in reducing the country\u2019s murder rate, and his aggressive and controversial management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not as well-known is the reality that he governs with his three younger brothers \u2014 Karim Alberto (33), and Yusef Al\u00ed and Ibrajim Antonio (30-year-old twins) \u2014 who comprise the nucleus of a family clan that teams up with the president in most of his decisions. They\u2019re all sons of father Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n, who died in 2015, and mother Olga Marina Ortez. While they don\u2019t officially hold any public office, for the last year they\u2019ve been functioning as if they were essential cabinet ministers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAlthough there are 16 appointed ministers, six presidential secretaries and three commissioners, numerous sources consulted by El Faro confirm that the Bukele Ortez brothers are sometimes the only ones involved in important government decisions. They also note that a hierarchy exists even within this small leadership group. The president and Karim are the strategists who define the direction of the presidency. Yusef and Ibrajim are advisors who gather information and have their brother\u2019s ear. Since they don\u2019t have official government positions, none are subject to any laws regulating public employee accountability.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1898&ImageHeight=1536&ImageId=33886\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Nayib Bukele\u2019s mother, Olga Ortez, and his brothers Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef (from right to left) at the president\u2019s inauguration on June 1, 2019. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003ENayib Bukele\u2019s mother, Olga Ortez, and his brothers Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef (from right to left) at the president\u2019s inauguration on June 1, 2019. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EDuring the 20 years that Arena was in power, most major strategic decisions were made by people who represented the country\u2019s greatest fortunes, whether or not they held government positions or were even Arena party members. The decision-makers during the 10 years of FMLN governments were the old high command, the same small group of guerrillas that led the FMLN during the civil war and that signed the 1992 peace agreement (although from 2009 to 2014 during the first FMLN government, decision-making power was held by the C\u00e1ceres family, Mecaf\u00e9 and Herbert Saca). Now, 30 years after the end of the war, the most important decision-making core of the presidency is dominated by one family: the Bukele clan.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EJust beyond the inner circle, but still under the clan\u2019s control, are the cousins that Nayib grew up with \u2212 Xavier Zablah Bukele (the president of Nuevas Ideas) and his brother, Francisco. In the next circle of trust are the president\u2019s private secretary, Ernesto Castro and his wife, Michelle Sol (Minister of Housing), the president\u2019s legal counsel, Conan Castro, and Carolina Recinos, the commissioner for the president\u2019s cabinet. There are also some childhood friends and former schoolmates (Escuela Panamericana) of the president who have been appointed to public office: Federico Anliker (an airplane pilot and president of CEPA), Fernando L\u00f3pez Larreynaga (Minister of the Environment), and Mar\u00eda Luisa Hayem (Minister of the Economy). President Bukele\u2019s wife, Gabriela Rodr\u00edguez, is considered to be in charge of the Secretariat for Social Inclusion and is also its main recruiter.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Faro consulted various sources to map out how the Bukele government operates and applies influence. These sources include government officials who, fearing repercussions, spoke to us off the record, as well as family friends, former colleagues, and former Escuela Panamericana teachers. El Faro journalists also provided their notes from various meetings with the four Bukele Ortez brothers, including the current president.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWe also interviewed four businessmen, three legislators, and two party advisors with a first-hand view of the Bukele Ortez clan\u2019s role in this administration. To develop a better picture of the president\u2019s relatives with decision-making power in the current administration, we reviewed Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n\u2019s (the president\u2019s father) will, as well as the audio of a 2013 interview with Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n that we obtained. Lastly, we reviewed documents from the Commercial Registry, the Property Registry, official publications regarding the settlement of an inheritance bequeathed by Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n in Chile, and the Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n Foundation charter.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThey have divided up different areas \u2212 Yusef has the economic cabinet, while Karim is the political strategist and speechwriter. The president uses Ibrajim for negotiations or special assignments like implementing economic stimulus projects,\u201d says a friend of the brothers who knows how this government works. This family friend contends that there isn\u2019t a formal division of labor among the brothers, since they all move freely throughout the president\u2019s administration. It\u2019s more of a tacit agreement that has developed after a year in office about the areas over which each brother has more control.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president has publicly acknowledged his reliance on Karim\u2019s advice. In his televised address to the nation on May 18, Nayib Bukele referred to his brother\u2019s role, who stood just off-camera watching his brother\u2019s speech. \u201cI personally feel that right now I need all the help I can get, especially from someone I trust, like my brother,\u201d the president said, referring to the frequent meetings in April between Karim and the National Association of Private Enterprise (Asociaci\u00f3n Nacional de la Empresa Privada \u2212 ANEP) to craft a law to reopen the economy after the coronavirus quarantine is lifted. \u201cIf someone doesn\u2019t like that, then they can just wait, because in four years they can vote for another president,\u201d said Nayib Bukele. Even before the pandemic, Karim has been a regular negotiator for the administration in the Legislative Assembly\u2019s \u201cBlue Room.\u201d One of his visits there was on February 9, when the president stormed into that room flanked by military personnel.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president\u2019s twin brothers have kept a lower profile, as their meetings are usually private. For example, Ibrajim was the president\u2019s delegate to a meeting of the committee established to manage $2 billion in coronavirus emergency funding. Six government officials and five private sector representatives comprise the committee, but some people who participated in the meeting said that Ibrajim never spoke. Several sources indicate that the twins are frequent visitors to the Presidential House.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt\u2019s not publicly known if the president\u2019s relatives are paid for these functions. The president has said several times that he gets free advice, and administration officials also maintain that others have provided unpaid services. However, it was later discovered that some people hold two positions and are secretly paid for one of them. This is the case of the presidency\u2019s legal secretary, Conan Castro. As the president admitted towards the end of his first year in office, Castro is also functioning as a legal advisor for which he receives a salary that the administration refuses to divulge.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe family clan\u2019s power has been at work from the very start of this administration. \u201cI was interviewed by Ibrajim for a position in the economic cabinet,\u201d said one person who was interviewed in the first half of 2019 for a job to head a government office, when president-elect Bukele was selecting his cabinet. Ibrajim himself confirmed this to El Faro, as did three of the people he interviewed.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to these sources, the Bukele Ortez clan acted as the de facto human resources office of the administration in those early days. The brothers divided up the entire executive branch apparatus to hire all the middle management, which consists of more than 100 institutions among all the ministries, secretariats, autonomous organizations, financial institutions, and their subsidiary agencies.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president\u2019s inner circle is also well-protected. Officials who agreed to talk off the record were reluctant to go into details for fear of being recognized as sources of information. One administration official acknowledged that \u201cif the president finds out that any of his officials are talking to you or to another banned media outlet, that person will be out on the street.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPresident Bukele, born on July 24, 1981, has six more siblings \u2014 four women and two men who were born to five other women with whom Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n had relationships during his lifetime. One of them is a public figure. Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez is the president of the autonomous agency that oversees the country\u2019s sports policy \u2014 the Instituto Nacional de los Deportes de El Salvador (INDES). President Bukele personally appointed him to this post.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHowever, Yamil\u2019s influence is limited to sports. One of the Bukele Ortez brothers spoke off the record to El Faro, making it clear that he hadn\u2019t been authorized by Nayib to make any statements. He didn\u2019t mention Yamil as being among the president\u2019s top-level advisors, pointing instead to Miguel Katt\u00e1n, the president\u2019s Secretary for Trade. President Bukele has described Katt\u00e1n as a distant relative.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EApart from the Bukele Ortez brothers and the president of INDES, none of Nayib\u2019s other siblings play a formal or informal role in the government, according to a close relative of the Bukele Ortez clan.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1024&ImageHeight=682&ImageId=33887\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Karim Bukele, in the light gray jacket, was the administration\u2019s spokesperson in talks with private enterprise, and on May 5 lobbied the legislature to pass emergency response laws. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u00a0\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EKarim Bukele, in the light gray jacket, was the administration\u2019s spokesperson in talks with private enterprise, and on May 5 lobbied the legislature to pass emergency response laws. Photo available on Karim Bukele\u2019s Facebook page.\u00a0\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs he acknowledged to El Faro journalists, the most influential person in the president\u2019s life was Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n. The patriarch of the family shaped the thinking and politics o f Nayib to such an extent that he considered withdrawing from the public arena after his father\u2019s death. Nayib himself acknowledged this in a conversation with El Faro during his time of mourning.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EArmando Bukele Katt\u00e1n, a PhD in industrial chemistry, entrepreneur, and founding leader of the country\u2019s Muslim community since 1992, also opened the first mosque in El Salvador. The president has acknowledged to family and friends that Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef now occupy the empty space left by his father\u2019s death.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENayib Bukele went into politics even though his father didn\u2019t fully agree with the decision. A person close to the family who knew about Nayib\u2019s registration with the FMLN party to run for mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n in 2012, said that he did so without informing his father, even though they had previously discussed the matter. According to the same source, Nayib\u2019s father reacted angrily when he learned that his son had joined the FMLN. Armando Bukele, in the audio of a 2013 interview that El Faro obtained, talked about his pre-registration conversation with his son.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EArmando Bukele remembers saying to his son \u201cDon\u2019t get involved in politics. Why do it?\u201d In the same interview, he says his son told him: \u201cYou read your books, you\u2019re involved with the Kiwanis, Islam, and you\u2019re writing your book on physics. You have Religions for Peace as a hobby. I want politics as a hobby \u2014 I like it.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn the interview, the father says that the conversation ended with some advice for his son: \u201cGo ahead, then, get in! But I\u2019m going to give you some advice \u2212 win.\u00a0 Politicians who lose are... thrown away. You\u2019ll be damaged goods.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EKarim, the Key Man\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA prominent businessman, two cabinet officials, an aspiring government official that interviewed with one of the Bukele Ortez brothers, and two private sector labor union representatives all concur that Karim Bukele, who was also Nayib\u2019s campaign manager, is the administration\u2019s strategist and top negotiator. A demonstration of his decision-making power was seen in the recent May 4 legislative session, in which the Legislative Assembly voted in favor of allowing the administration to raise $1 billion in debt obligations, which opened yet another crack in the Arena party. It was the first public demonstration of Karim\u2019s responsibility for getting favorable votes in the Assembly. At least three congressmen and two party advisors claim he led the negotiations, although \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202005\/el_salvador\/24380\/Arena-pacta-con-el-hermano-del-presidente-un-decreto-que-normaliza-las-detenciones-arbitrarias.htm\"\u003Ehe was sometimes accompanied by other officials\u003C\/a\u003E such as Nelson Fuentes (Finance Minister), Javier Argueta (presidential legal advisor), Ernesto Castro (private secretary), and Manuel Aguilar (Telecommunications Superintendent). Karim also negotiated the Quarantine Law in that session of the Assembly, a law that allowed police to detain people suspected of violating the stay-at-home order. The Supreme Court of Justice had previously considered this type of detention to be illegal, and can be understood as an arbitrary detention.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA few days earlier, Karim had represented his brother when he negotiated behind closed doors the proposals he would later bring to the Assembly. He negotiated with legislators and was also the administration\u2019s go-between with ANEP (then headed by Luis Cardenal) to decide how to distribute that $1 billion package of financial assistance to companies hurt by the pandemic crisis. Several of our sources contend that he has been doing this type of thing for a year now, despite not having an official position in the administration. He is also the only one of the president\u2019s brothers who has made statements to the press on behalf of the administration. On that May 4 night, Karim and some of the presidential secretaries left the Legislative Palace \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202005\/el_salvador\/24380\/Arena-pacta-con-el-hermano-del-presidente-un-decreto-que-normaliza-las-detenciones-arbitrarias.htm\"\u003Esatisfied with the agreement reached\u003C\/a\u003E. It was Karim who explained the deal to the news media, although he avoided answering questions about his position. \u201cAll these rumors about a total shutdown and some kind of curfew are completely baseless. These rumors are ridiculous, and I am telling you now, I\u2019m giving you my word, that it\u2019s not going to happen,\u201d Karim said to the dozen journalists surrounding him after his meeting in the Assembly. To questions raised about his lobbying of the Assembly for the $1 billion, he said, \u201cYes, it\u2019s part of the president\u2019s initiative. The decree specifies what the funds will be used for \u2014 they\u2019re stimulus funds to inject into El Salvador\u2019s economy. The country isn\u2019t taking in enough in taxes, so we need to offer relief to those entrepreneurs (government suppliers), not necessarily big companies... who need that relief...\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELuis Cardenal, in his final interview as ANEP\u2019s president with the Frente a Frente TV program on April 24, thanked Karim for staying all day during the negotiations and for facilitating the agreements. \u201cI appreciate Karim Bukele because there were a number of failed proposals, and we thought that we might not be able to achieve anything that day, but we stuck with it,\u201d said Cardenal. \u201cHe also persisted and facilitated the participation of several ministers, so we began to see what we could do to help the most vulnerable population.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EKarim has been a close advisor to Nayib Bukele and one of those who molded him into a public figure since his time as mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n. In 2015, when Nayib was preparing to run for mayor of San Salvador, Karim \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201503\/noticias\/16709\/%C2%BFQui%C3%A9n-ha-ganado-la-alcald%C3%ADa-de-San-Salvador-Nayib-Bukele-o-el-FMLN.htm\"\u003Espent many hours coaching him\u003C\/a\u003E in public speaking and dealing with the news media. Three businessmen and three Arena legislators who have experience negotiating with Karim, describe him as the brains behind his brother\u2019s work. They describe Nayib as having a quick mind, but he focuses more on performance. Karim, on the other hand, focuses more on shaping ideas, on analyzing each step.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn a televised debate during his 2015 mayoral campaign, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=640&ImageHeight=427&ImageId=21357\"\u003EKarim was one of the few people accompanying his brother in the television studio\u003C\/a\u003E, whispering in his ear at every commercial break.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn an April 30th interview published in the Diario de Hoy, FMLN leader Fabio Castillo, who sponsored Nayib Bukele during his years as an FMLN mayor, explained the relationship: \u201cHis father, who was a brilliant and upright man, influenced the president a great deal, but he\u2019s dead now. Layla (Nayib\u2019s infant daughter) will influence him in the future, but she\u2019s too young to talk. The only one who can influence him is his brother Karim, who is smarter than the president. But he has a flaw \u2014 he gets the president all wound up and excited about too many things,\u201d Castillo said. \u201cAnd at this point, I\u2019d like to say that this administration has not only shown signs of being undemocratic, but has also demonstrated its tribalism. The president\u2019s brothers, the three Bukele Ortez brothers, have extraordinary influence over state affairs that they shouldn\u2019t have.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1898&ImageHeight=1536&ImageId=33888\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"In a January 2015 television debate leading up to the municipal elections, then FMLN mayoral candidate, Nayib Bukele, listens to instructions from Ernesto Sanabria (now his Press Secretary), and his brother, Karim (gray jacket). Photo by Fred Ramos\/El Faro archive.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EIn a January 2015 television debate leading up to the municipal elections, then FMLN mayoral candidate, Nayib Bukele, listens to instructions from Ernesto Sanabria (now his Press Secretary), and his brother, Karim (gray jacket). Photo by Fred Ramos\/El Faro archive.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFrom the beginning, Nayib has developed his entire political persona together with his brothers, but Karim has always been the closest. Karim\u2019s Twitter account labels him as the head of his brother\u2019s 2019 presidential campaign. Another example of the brothers\u2019 role in this political endeavor is that while Karim was campaign manager, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/elfaronet\/posts\/efelectoral-yusef-bukele-hermano-del-candidato-a-la-presidencia-del-partido-gana\/1984892571563775\/\"\u003EYusef headed the Nuevas Ideas delegation at the voting center located in the Centro Internacional de Ferias y Convenciones\u003C\/a\u003E (CIFCO), a key voting center in the capital city and a traditional bastion of Arena voters.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELast December, during an official mission to China, one of the few official trips that President Bukele has made in his first year (along with trips to the United States and Mexico), the Chinese government acknowledged Karim Bukele as the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/oujianhong\/status\/1201864678030184449?s=20\"\u003Eprimary architect of the meeting\u003C\/a\u003E, in which several trade and cooperation agreements were signed. \u201cSpecial thanks to Mr. Karim @bukele. Without his valuable work and important contributions, we would not have achieved success during President Bukele\u2019s state visit to China,\u201d tweeted the Chinese Ambassador to El Salvador on December 3, 2019.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHowever, the president\u2019s office stated that it couldn\u2019t provide any information regarding Karim Bukele\u2019s trip. \u201cAccording to our investigation with respect to Mr. Karim Bukele, I am informing you that, according to data from our Human Resources office, he has not been appointed to any position in this administration, nor are there any records of trips paid with institutional funds, according to our Finance office,\u201d says a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.transparencia.gob.sv\/institutions\/capres\/documents\/357249\/download\"\u003Ememorandum from the Private Secretariat\u003C\/a\u003E. This is another example of the shadows in which the president\u2019s brothers operate: they act, agree, and negotiate, but nothing is made public if they don\u2019t reveal it themselves. Nothing is auditable, and there is no official information. In reality, it seems like an ordinary Salvadoran citizen personally negotiated agreements with China on behalf of El Salvador.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cKarim is a key contributor \u2212 he is very close to the president,\u201d says Jos\u00e9 Escobar, president of the Textile, Clothing and Free Trade Zone Industry Association (C\u00e1mara de la Industria Textil, Confecci\u00f3n y Zonas Francas \u2212 CAMTEX). \u201cYou can see that they communicate well. I think the president feels supported by Karim, who plays an important role in helping the president do what needs to get done. He has come here to ANEP, he has been to the Assembly, he has been to several other places \u2013 he\u2019s very active with the business community,\u201d he added.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EKarim was the only one of the president\u2019s brothers attending the \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202005\/el_salvador\/24446\/Empresarios-logran-que-el-Gobierno-impulse-reapertura-nueve-d%C3%ADas-antes-de-lo-que-quer%C3%ADa.htm\"\u003Emeeting with a dozen major businessmen at the Presidential House on May 18\u003C\/a\u003E, a meeting to negotiate the reopening of the economy after the coronavirus quarantine is lifted. One of those businessmen was Escobar. Karim negotiates with legislators, makes agreements with businessmen, discusses strategies with allied countries, and advises his brother in public appearances. Karim is everywhere.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Businessmen Twins\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYusef Al\u00ed Bukele, one of Nayib\u2019s twin brothers, explained his relationship with the president to an El Faro reporter at a February 4 cocktail party held at the National Palace to celebrate Avianca\u2019s 100th year in business. He described himself as an intermediary between the private sector and the president, and as a gatekeeper: \u201cI have the president\u2019s ear,\u201d he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYusef has an economics degree and, according to Luis Cardenal (former president of ANEP and another businessman who leads a large family conglomerate), he is the one in the Presidential House who listens to the concerns of the private sector labor unions. Party leaders also consider him to be \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202001\/el_salvador\/23962\/Un-primo-de-Nayib-Bukele-se-perfila-como-nuevo-jefe-de-Nuevas-Ideas.htm\"\u003Eone of the president\u2019s main links to the Nuevas Ideas party\u003C\/a\u003E led by one of his cousins, Xavier Zablah Bukele.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPresident Bukele also attended Avianca\u2019s 100th anniversary celebration. The stage was the National Palace, in the heart of the capital, and the showcase for the urban renovation projects that Bukele undertook when he was mayor. The president gave a speech that was applauded by many of the prominent businessmen gathered there. Shortly after the speech ended, Avianca\u2019s president, Roberto Kriete, spoke to El Faro. \u201cSince President S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n left and President Bukele took office, the investment climate has improved enormously. The people feel a difference, the people are optimistic, the people want to push forward with him, and I think he\u2019s doing what\u2019s needed for this country to progress,\u201d said Kriete.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBy November 2019, private enterprise had \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201911\/el_salvador\/23820\/La-empresa-privada-consuma-su-giro-y-aplaude-a-Nayib-Bukele.htm\"\u003Eachieved a major shift in its relationship with the central government\u003C\/a\u003E. ANEP and business leaders encountered a different kind of president after 10 years of FMLN rule that, although not as confrontational as expected, was marked by constant public friction with the private sector. Bukele knew how to capitalize on this for his own benefit, and when he won the presidency in February 2019, he began to send signals to private enterprise, such as with his speech at the conservative \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201903\/el_salvador\/23117\/Bukele-env%C3%ADa-una-carta-de-amor-al-gobierno-de-Trump.htm\"\u003EHeritage Foundation\u003C\/a\u003E in Washington, D.C. \u201cI want to improve relations with the United States as much as possible... We have a lot in common, we want the same things as most Americans, and we think we like 90% of what Americans like. You see, we like things like free enterprise, limited government, freedom of speech, and democracy,\u201d Bukele said in that speech.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPart of the reason why businessmen were applauding Nayib on that February night in the National Palace is that he had already built some bridges, and those bridges were his brothers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt that same event, an El Faro reporter approached Yusef with some questions about his relationship with the president. Yusef responded that he had no problem giving statements, but that he didn\u2019t know on whose behalf he would be speaking, so he asked to reschedule the interview. \u201cWe can talk, but I don\u2019t have any government position, so who am I going to be speaking for? On behalf of the president\u2019s brother? It\u2019s a little weird, you know. I\u2019m helping my brother, but I don\u2019t have any official position. I help him personally, and advise him as a family member. But I don\u2019t know who I can speak for. Who am I?\u201d Yusef Bukele asked himself.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe El Faro reporter replied that certain businessmen have said that Yusef has a direct channel to the president. \u201cThey say that because I\u2019m the president\u2019s brother. I have the president\u2019s ear, so to speak. That\u2019s why they talk to me, so that I can relay messages,\u201d he added. He then insisted on rescheduling the interview. \u201cI really have no problem giving statements. The thing is, I don\u2019t know on whose behalf I can speak. On my own behalf? The government\u2019s behalf? I don\u2019t have a position. We\u2019d better talk some other time, although I don\u2019t know how it would look. Like we\u2019ve gone back to the days of monarchies, don\u2019t you think?\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1000&ImageHeight=905&ImageId=33889\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"\u201cHigh tension in the situation room... Although I still believe the FMLN will win,\u201d wrote Nayib Bukele in his Facebook post of this photo, the night of March 9, 2014. This was the day of the presidential runoff that Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n ultimately won. Bukele was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n at the time. Also pictured in the photo is his brother, Karim, and his cousin, Xavier Zablah, current president of Nuevas Ideas. Photo available on Nayib Bukele\u2019s official Facebook page.\u00a0\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E\u201cHigh tension in the situation room... Although I still believe the FMLN will win,\u201d wrote Nayib Bukele in his Facebook post of this photo, the night of March 9, 2014. This was the day of the presidential runoff that Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n ultimately won. Bukele was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatl\u00e1n at the time. Also pictured in the photo is his brother, Karim, and his cousin, Xavier Zablah, current president of Nuevas Ideas. Photo available on Nayib Bukele\u2019s official Facebook page.\u00a0\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EGovernment Recruiters\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele took office surrounded by a cabinet that is largely made up of his \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201906\/el_salvador\/23362\/Amigos-socios-y-parientes-en-el-nuevo-Gobierno.htm\"\u003Epartners, friends, and relatives\u003C\/a\u003E, as reported by El Faro in June 2019. The president\u2019s brothers also played an important role in recruiting the ministers and officials who now run the administration. And the most important recruiter of them all was Ibrajim Antonio Bukele Ortez.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIbrajim confirmed to El Faro on June 1, 2019 that he conducted around 270 interviews with candidates for government positions, and then sent a shortlist of candidates for jobs in economic and autonomous agencies to the president. Former officials from the S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n administration and some officials from the current government who spoke off the record to El Faro also confirmed what Ibrajim told us. Ibrajim conducted the 270 interviews in the Yamaha offices on Roosevelt Avenue, the motorcycle distributor that belongs to Global Motors S.A. de C.V. (a company that the Bukele Ortez family has owned since 2009, according to the Commercial Registry). Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n\u2019s will indicates that the Bukele Ortez family controls 66% of Global Motors\u2019 shares, one of the most robust of the family-owned companies that in 2018, had $8.6 million in assets, according to the Commercial Registry.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhile Ibrajim acknowledges having done the interviews, he didn\u2019t provide any details about the process. Candidates confirmed that the hour-long interviews were conducted at Yamaha\u2019s headquarters with the company\u2019s head of human resources present. They said Ibrajim was typing nonstop on his laptop computer during the interview. The purpose of the first interview was to do a political screening of candidates. There was a second, more technical meeting, especially for economic cabinet positions, in which Ibrajim did not participate. Ibrajim confirmed to El Faro that \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201906\/el_salvador\/23362\/Amigos-socios-y-parientes-en-el-nuevo-Gobierno.htm\"\u003Eeconomist Luis Membre\u00f1o and businessman Adolfo \u201cFito\u201d Salume\u003C\/a\u003E also did some of the interviewing.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2015, the Bukele clan defeated the Arena candidate to win the mayor\u2019s office of San Salvador. Yusef had just graduated from UCA\u2019s Economics Department and Ibrajim was in charge of the family businesses that provided various services to the government. According to information from the Ministry of Finance, between February 2016 and April 2018, when Nayib was already the most prominent FMLN political figure in the eyes of the voters, Ibrajim signed (as the legal representative of Global Motors) 40 contracts for transportation maintenance, repair, and spare parts with 17 public institutions, including ministries, autonomous agencies and public corporations, amounting to $335,789 dollars. Between 2011 and 2015, Nayib Bukele maintained a \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201408\/noticias\/15839\/El-FMLN-abre-la-puerta-grande-a-Nayib-Bukele.htm\"\u003Ecordial relationship with the FMLN\u003C\/a\u003E. But when he became the capital city\u2019s mayor in 2015, \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201503\/noticias\/16709\/%C2%BFQui%C3%A9n-ha-ganado-la-alcald%C3%ADa-de-San-Salvador-Nayib-Bukele-o-el-FMLN.htm\"\u003Ehis relationship with the FMLN leadership and some party cadres began to strain\u003C\/a\u003E, and the \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201710\/el_salvador\/21010\/FMLN-expulsa-a-Nayib-Bukele-y-este-se-declara-\"\u003Erelationship finally broke down in October 2017\u003C\/a\u003E.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIbrajim is also an \u201cadvisor to the president,\u201d or at least that is how he was introduced to Turkish business executives when he accompanied Nayib Bukele on an official mission to that country from August 18-25, 2019. There is no government document that describes Ibrajim Bukele in this manner, or that explains his role as a representative of the Salvadoran people. El Salvador\u2019s Ministry of Foreign Affairs bought him a ticket for $7,644 and invited him on this trip as a \u201cspecial guest,\u201d paying $1,172 in expenses. According to a document uploaded to the government\u2019s transparency website (Portal de Transparencia), the objective of the trip was: \u201cTo participate in the official Salvadoran delegation accompanying the Minister of Foreign Affairs on her official visit to Turkey, and to explore cooperation programs and projects.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn Turkey, Ibrajim and Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill met with officials, but also with a private organization tasked with conducting the foreign economic relations of the Turkish private sector \u2212 the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.deik.org.tr\/deik-about-us\"\u003EForeign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK)\u003C\/a\u003E. In that meeting, Ibrajim was no longer a \u201cspecial guest\u201d, but was presented as an \u201cadvisor to the president\u201d by the organization hosting the Salvadoran delegation.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1600&ImageHeight=1120&ImageId=33890\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Ibrajim Bukele\u2019s trip to Turkey in August 2019 as a special guest of the Minister of Foreign Relations was paid from public funds. He was introduced there as an advisor to the president. This photo was published August 22, 2019 on social media by DEIK, a Turkish business association. Ibrajim Bukele is pictured greeting one of the DEIK executives. Photo published by DEIK.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EIbrajim Bukele\u2019s trip to Turkey in August 2019 as a special guest of the Minister of Foreign Relations was paid from public funds. He was introduced there as an advisor to the president. This photo was published August 22, 2019 on social media by DEIK, a Turkish business association. Ibrajim Bukele is pictured greeting one of the DEIK executives. Photo published by DEIK.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEarlier this year on January 23, Luis Cardenal described Yusef\u2019s functions to El Faro. \u201cYes, we\u2019ve had meetings with Yusef Bukele, who presumably is in charge (for the administration) of economic issues and relations with labor unions. What he wants is to make it easier to solve problems. I want to be clear that Yusef himself doesn\u2019t resolve anything. He is an intermediary who says: what problems do you have? What problems have you had? And we reply, There are problems in customs, in the environment, and with permits. So he says, Well, let\u2019s make a list and communicate these issues to the administration so that they can be addressed in the next meeting, and so that the ministers are responding to these issues. But he isn\u2019t the one who ultimately takes action.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBack to that February night in the National Palace. The president had already left, and several ministers at the cocktail party were having conversations at the tables farthest from the stage. Yusef, on the other hand, was at the foot of the stage, in the middle of that auspicious event, talking animatedly with Kriete, his family, and Avianca\u2019s top executives while the music flowed over the party-goers. There was laughter, back-slapping, and conversation. \u201cThey thought we didn\u2019t believe in free enterprise, because the president was ex-FMLN. But we are more pro-business than they are,\u201d explains one of President Bukele\u2019s brothers, speaking off the record to the news media because he said that he needed Nayib\u2019s authorization. \u201cArena is pro-business, but they view themselves as the plantation owners. We have always been pro-business, but we are for truly free private enterprise. I told [the businessmen] this in a meeting.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe support that the brothers give to the president may be the natural sequel to their joint management of the various companies they inherited from their father. However, this has resulted in opaque power centers in the presidency, because when public accountability is required, they hide behind their private relationships. The brother who spoke off the record to El Faro describes it like this: \u201cWe\u2019re straight with the president. Other officials, when the president says something, just say \u2018Yes, yes, yes,\u2019 because they\u2019re thinking about keeping their jobs. It\u2019s just too much. They do it out of fear or wanting curry favor with the president. Then there\u2019s all the drama that goes on between these officials, but we don\u2019t pay attention to that. We\u2019re above it all,\u201d he explained.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWe\u2019re above it all, he said. \u201cAll\u201d refers to the president\u2019s cabinet, and it\u2019s a cabinet that one Bukele Ortez brother describes as toadying to the president.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn his April 30 interview with El Diario de Hoy, FMLN leader Fabio Castillo spoke about official travel by government officials and their business relationships. But he points to Karim as being the most prominent figure. \u201cRegarding state affairs, people tell you that they\u2019ve already spoken to one of the brothers. That cannot be. At times Karim has been the leader of official delegations, sometimes even above the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This situation of talking to the president\u2019s relatives to get what you want hasn\u2019t happened in our country since the Mel\u00e9ndez brothers were in power, not even during the military governments.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIbrajim also participated in other COVID-19 emergency response meetings with government officials, in which it became clear that he\u2019s part of the main decision-making core. On April 22, Ibrajim attended a meeting of the \u201cEmergency Committee,\u201d a team of civilians and ministers created by legislative decree to administer $2 billion in funding raised through government bonds. The committee disbanded on May 11 following the president\u2019s rejection of the committee\u2019s agreements. But 29 days earlier, Ibrajim had attended one of the committee meetings accompanied by the president of the Salvadoran Institute for Agrarian Transformation (Instituto Salvadore\u00f1o de Transformaci\u00f3n Agraria, or ISTA), Oscar Guardado, and one of his assistants, to discuss the government\u2019s intention to promote an agrarian transformation plan and a food security program.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAlthough the president\u2019s brother did not speak during the presentation, two sources who knew about the meeting assured El Faro that Ibrajim was presented as the leader of the initiative. He declared that the project was intended to make El Salvador the first country in Latin America, for once, to guarantee food security for all its citizens. Guardado\u2019s assistant was the one who presented the project. At that meeting, Ibrajim, Guardado and his assistant were asked whether similar initiatives had been promoted by previous administrations and had failed. They explained that a lack of specialists in food security and the unavailability of ISTA lands (that the Bukele government wants to use) were the reasons that similar initiatives failed during previous administrations. \u201cThey proposed to use ISTA lands that have been idle since 1983. Many of these lands are in an unusable condition,\u201d said one source.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Bukele Clan and the FMLN\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe history of the Bukele clan in El Salvador dates back to the early 20th century, when Humberto Bukele Salm\u00e1n (Nayib\u2019s grandfather) emigrated from Palestine in 1921 with his brothers, Jorge and Taufick. The brothers, according to a \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/biblioteca.itca.edu.sv\/biblioteca\/opac3\/verdetalle.php?idobra=25222&searchType=desc_ppales_anadoc,desc_post_anadoc,desc_prop_anadoc&cc=0&searchText=EL%20SALVADOR&sortBy=default&sfrase=default\"\u003Ebiography by Alfredo Bukele Sim\u00f3n\u003C\/a\u003E (Jorge\u2019s son and Armando Bukele\u2019s cousin), opened a factory in San Salvador\u2019s historic city center: the Camiser\u00eda Americana, which popularized the Norma brand of guayabera shirts.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHumberto Bukele Salm\u00e1n\u2019s marriage to Victoria Katt\u00e1n (who was from Bethlehem in present day Israel) produced five children: Mario Humberto Bukele Katt\u00e1n (1942), Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n (1944), Norma Victoria Bukele Katt\u00e1n (1949), Mary Nelly Bukele Katt\u00e1n and Humberto Bukele Katt\u00e1n. After Bukele Salm\u00e1n\u2019s death, his two oldest sons, Mario and Armando, took over the family business, H. Bukele e Hijos y Compa\u00f1\u00eda. In the 1980s, they were the company\u2019s legal representatives on duty free import registrations for materials to manufacture shirts, pajamas, and underwear.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EArmando, the president\u2019s father, who had a PhD in industrial chemistry, also had a proclivity for various exact sciences and earned several university degrees. He also claimed to have a journalism degree. The patriarch of the Bukele Ortez clan built a diversified business conglomerate in advertising, textiles, pharmaceuticals, beverages, and automobiles. In 2014, a year before his death and the last year in which all the companies agreed to submit their balance sheets to the Commercial Registry, his main companies (Global Motors, Obermet and Manufacturas Humberto Bukele e Hijos) had assets totaling $18.2 million dollars. Upon his death in 2015, the patriarch\u2019s family businesses and property were divided among his descendants. That year, nine of his ten children named in his will dated November 5, 2010, were already of majority age, and eight were involved in the management of those businesses.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to his will, Armando Bukele had six life partners in \u201cnon-marital unions.\u201d Rosa Imelda Centeno Colindres is the mother of his oldest daughter, Yamile Bukele Centeno (born on November 14, 1973). Bernarda Rosa P\u00e9rez Pomare is a Colombian national and the mother of Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez (born on January 23, 1978). Another partner was Alma Platero, with whom he had Dayana Marilyn Bukele Platero. Alicia Quintanilla Arevalo, who died in August 2011, was the mother of Armando Bukele\u2019s successor as a religious leader and imam of the San Salvador Mosque, Emerson Gerardo Bukele Quintanilla. Amanda Ram\u00edrez Gonz\u00e1lez is the mother of his youngest children, F\u00e1tima Mariam Bukele Ram\u00edrez and Karime Bukele Ram\u00edrez. And finally, with Olga Ortez, Armando Bukele had President Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez and his brothers Karim, Ibrajim and Yusef.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1898&ImageHeight=1536&ImageId=33891\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Above, from left to right, Nayib Bukele Ortez, Emerson Bukele Quintanilla, Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez, Dayana Bukele Platero, Olga Ortez, Karim Bukele Ortez, Yamile Bukele Centeno, Ibrajim Bukele Ortez and Yusef Bukele Ortez. Sitting, Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n. Photo available on Emerson Bukele\u2019s Facebook page and Twitter account.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EAbove, from left to right, Nayib Bukele Ortez, Emerson Bukele Quintanilla, Yamil Alejandro Bukele P\u00e9rez, Dayana Bukele Platero, Olga Ortez, Karim Bukele Ortez, Yamile Bukele Centeno, Ibrajim Bukele Ortez and Yusef Bukele Ortez. Sitting, Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n. Photo available on Emerson Bukele\u2019s Facebook page and Twitter account.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOnly Norma and Humberto are still alive among Armando Bukele Katt\u00e1n\u2019s siblings. Mario Bukele Katt\u00e1n died on July 26, 2016. Mario\u2019s son, and Armando\u2019s nephew, Hassan Ricardo Bukele Mart\u00ednez, was secretary of the San Salvador city council when Nayib Bukele was the city\u2019s mayor.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMary Nelly Bukele Katt\u00e1n de Zablah, Nayib\u2019s aunt, died on September 21, 2002. She had three children: Nelly Vanesa Zablah Bukele, Francisco David Zablah Bukele, and Xavier Eduardo Zablah Bukele. Francisco is on the Board of Directors of the Bukele family\u2019s main advertising firm, Obermet, one of their wealthiest companies in terms of assets. In 2017, Obermet reported $6.4 million in assets to the Commercial Registry. Xavier is the president of the Nuevas Ideas party and attended the same school as the president, the Escuela Panamericana.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe two Zablah Bukele brothers are founding members of the political party created by Nayib, a party that has candidates running in the 2021 legislative and municipal elections. Both brothers are regular visitors to the Presidential House, according to officials who spoke to El Faro.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe background of the president\u2019s uncles is important for one reason: politics got in the family blood through one of them.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn the 1980s, during the early days of the civil war, Mario Bukele Katt\u00e1n would often invite Schafik H\u00e1ndal and his brother Farid H\u00e1ndal to his home. Schafik was the most important FMLN ideologist, while Farid organized some of the legendary clandestine guerrilla cells, mainly in the eastern part of the country. Inviting them to his home was a complex process, since the H\u00e1ndal brothers had to enter San Salvador secretly, and always moved around on a war footing. Armando Bukele\u2019s friendship with Schafik began at the University of El Salvador in the 1960s. Humberto, Nayib\u2019s uncle, married Farid\u2019s daughter, Carolina H\u00e1ndal.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 1999, Nayib took advantage of his father\u2019s close relationship with FMLN leaders to ask Fabio Castillo, the party\u2019s general coordinator at that time, if his new advertising agency could handle the FMLN account. The party had just lost its second presidential election in a row to Arena. In a Facebook Live interview on October 15, 2017, Nayib recounted Castillo\u2019s answer. \u201cWe\u2019re giving you the account for two reasons. First, because we trust you and we believe you\u2019ll do a good job. Second, because you\u2019re the only ones who have asked us for the account,\u201d said Castillo. Two former FMLN leaders claim that those initial publicity campaigns were authorized by Roberto Lorenzana, a former communist commander, and former President Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n\u2019s (2014-2019) press secretary and chief of staff.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Panamericana Group\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnother feature of the president\u2019s cabinet is that key positions are occupied by people who attended the Escuela Panamericana with the president. The Panamericana is a private, bilingual educational institution attended by the children and adolescents of the country\u2019s upper-middle class.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMar\u00eda Luisa Hayem Brev\u00e9 (Minister of the Economy) and Fernando L\u00f3pez Larreynaga (Minister of the Environment) are two officials Nayib met at the Escuela Panamericana in the 1990s. Former students and teachers remember Hayem as an exemplary student who was named to the school\u2019s honor society for academically outstanding students. Hayem graduated before Bukele and is older. She has worked for various globally recognized economic organizations. Her mother is Francia Brev\u00e9, a former official in the economic cabinets of the Arena administrations.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFernando \u201cFerro\u201d Lopez was the closest to Bukele at the Panamericana. He and Federico Anliker were Nayib\u2019s best friends. Former classmates and teachers interviewed by El Faro remember the three as being inseparable. The three of them appear together, shoulder to shoulder, in the graduation photo of the class of 1999\u2019s yearbook. Anliker, is a former president of Nuevas Ideas and is president of the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (Comisi\u00f3n Ejecutiva Portuaria Aut\u00f3noma, or CEPA).\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1898&ImageHeight=1536&ImageId=33892\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Several officials from the current administration graduated from the Escuela Panamericana, including the president himself. In the top row, from left to right, are the three inseparable friends: Nayib Bukele, Federico Anliker (current CEPA president), and Fernando L\u00f3pez (current Environment Minister). Photo available on the Escuela Panamericana yearbook website.\u00a0\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003ESeveral officials from the current administration graduated from the Escuela Panamericana, including the president himself. In the top row, from left to right, are the three inseparable friends: Nayib Bukele, Federico Anliker (current CEPA president), and Fernando L\u00f3pez (current Environment Minister). Photo available on the Escuela Panamericana yearbook website.\u00a0\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThe make-up of the cabinet reveals the enduring bonds of childhood friendships. He favors trust over the skills required for the job,\u201d says Oscar Picardo, an academic researcher, director of the Institute of Public Opinion at Francisco Gavidia University, and a former teacher at the Escuela Panamericana, where he met Bukele. He and another former Panamericana teacher, historian Carlos Ca\u00f1as Dinarte, concur in that Bukele did not excel academically, but Dinarte recalls him as being curious and astute. \u201cHe was not a bad student, but I mostly remember he was curious. That\u2019s the word I would use to describe him. He always asked questions that... I don\u2019t know... a very curious person would ask,\u201d Dinarte remembers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele became president of his 12th grade class, his senior year in high school. It was 1999, and in the class yearbook, Bukele described himself with words that still resonate in the minds of many of his classmates. \u201cClass Terrorist,\u201d Bukele labeled himself under his photograph. That description, according to former classmates of the president, is related to an incident at Comalapa Airport after he returned from a trip abroad. The attacks at the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya) had just happened, and immigration officials at the Salvadoran airport had needled him about his Middle Eastern surname.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIbrajim, one of the Bukele Ortez twins, also studied at the Escuela Panamericana. Former students don\u2019t remember Yusef\u2019s time there, but more is known about his higher education. He was a university classmate of one of the most high-profile ministers in Nayib Bukele\u2019s cabinet \u2014 Edgar Romeo Rodr\u00edguez Herrera, the Minister of Public Works (Ministerio de Obras P\u00fablicas, or MOP). Both studied in the Economics Department of Central American University (UCA), graduating in 2014 after successfully defending a joint thesis titled \u201cA Theoretical and Empirical Comparison of Neoclassical and Marxist Theory Regarding the Relationship between Skilled Labor, Productivity and Wages.\u201d In the thesis acknowledgements page, the authors indicate that team leader was Rodriguez, who later became the sales manager of Bukele-owned Yamaha Motors.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFive years after graduating from college, Rodr\u00edguez hired another former classmate as the MOP\u2019s Administrative Manager. This is C\u00e9sar Enrique Marroqu\u00edn Rivas, another member of Yusef\u2019s joint thesis team, who after graduating from UCA, earned a master\u2019s degree in Financial Management at Francisco Gavidia University. Internal MOP documents show that, before being appointed to his current position, Marroqu\u00edn held the unpaid position of Manager of Institutional Contracting and Procurement. This document (dated June 20, 2019) indicates that Marroqu\u00edn is the person who signed a response to a request for public information regarding a non-existent invitation to bid for the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elfaro.net\/es\/201910\/el_salvador\/23702\/El-puente-construido-en-Twitter-todav%C3%ADa-no-existe-en-Torola.htm\"\u003Econtroversial bridge over the Torola River\u003C\/a\u003E (Moraz\u00e1n), which took several months longer to build than promised by the administration.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt the top of this administration\u2019s power pyramid are the Bukele Ortez brothers, buttressed by other relatives, long-time friends, and former employees of the family\u2019s businesses. They all have one thing in common \u2014 total loyalty to the Bukele Ortez brothers.\u003C\/p\u003E"}