Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced on Monday that he is creating a bipartisan Congressional El Salvador Caucus to strengthen bilateral relations with the United States. The formation of the new caucus, for which Gaetz will serve as inaugural co-chairman, follows a historic cultural recovery for El Salvador ushered in by the controversial but undeniably effective policies of President Nayib Bukele.

Rising to address the House of Representatives on Monday afternoon, Gaetz announced that the El Salvador Caucus will exist to promote understanding of the country’s recent progress among members of Congress, as well as to “vindicate the choices that President Bukele has made.” The caucus will be co-chaired by Gaetz and Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced the creation of a bipartisan Congressional El Salvador Caucus following the country's recovery under President Nayib Bukele.
(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Upon taking office in 2019, Bukele implemented an aggressive crackdown on gang activity, declaring an extended state of emergency to handle the threat posed by groups like MS-13. Since then, El Salvadoran security forces have arrested tens of thousands of suspected gang members, incarcerating them in specially designed prisons. Between 2022 and 2023, El Salvador’s murder rate dropped by 70 percent, taking it from the most dangerous country in the Western hemisphere to one of the safest, second only to Canada.

Bukele was reelected in a landslide victory earlier this year and was inaugurated for a second term last month. His swearing-in was attended by multiple American dignitaries, including Rep. Gaetz, Rep. Gonzalez, and other members of the House and Senate.

Gaetz has been a longtime supporter of Bukele’s policies, often highlighting El Salvador’s progress as a model for the US to follow. After returning home from the inauguration ceremony, Gaetz introduced legislation requiring the Internal Revenue Service to accept federal income taxes in Bitcoin—a move likely inspired by Bukele’s early decree recognizing the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Gaetz has also defended Bukele from American critics like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who spearheaded an effort to have the US State Department investigate El Salvador for “human rights abuses” and “threatening democracy” during the anti-gang campaign.

“President Bukele has converted El Salvador from the murder capital of the world into a reliable and stable partner for peace and security for the United States,” Gaetz continued on the House floor. “The El Salvador Caucus will exist to nurture and advance the US-El Salvador relationship and to vindicate the strong reforms that President Bukele has put into effect.”

“They’ve defeated the gangs, they’ve put prosperity on the march in El Salvador, and even the 70,000 people who are incarcerated in that country are not just seeing their lives wasted away,” he said. “President Bukele has instituted a ‘zero leisure’ policy where they are now restoring buildings and murals and actually rebuilding the country that so many of them had a hand in ravaging through gang warfare.”

“El Salvador’s resurgence has not existed as a consequence of falling for the siren song of globalism. Instead, President Bukele believes that the way El Salvador can lead within Central America is by being the best version of themselves, not being excessively reliant on some of these globalist institutions.”

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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