Rejecting both the traditional left-wing and right-wing parties, FMLN and ARENA respectively, and looking forward to the 2019 presidential election, he formed his own party, Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas).
Leading up to the 2019 presidential election, Bukele was already polling higher than any of the other potential presidential candidates. The old parties, FMLN and ARENA, teamed up to block his participation in the election. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal — the nation’s highest election authority — ruled that, despite meeting the conditions to register in time for the next election, Nuevas Ideas would not be allowed to compete in elections until after the presidential election was concluded. In order to run for President, Bukele had to run as the candidate of another party. The centre-left Cambio Democratico (Democratic Change) party was the most logical choice, as Bukele had ran for mayor as the FMLN candidate but in alliance with Cambio Democratico. But on the evening of July 25th, 2018, just hours before the deadline for candidates to register themselves for the election, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal secretly met and decided to cancel Cambio Democratico’s eligibility to participate in the election. They also decided to wait until the next day to announce it, when it would be too late for Bukele to change his party affiliation. Bukele got wind of the secret meeting and what was being plotted around 9 or 10 pm. He immediately and secretly withdrew his affiliation with Cambio Democratico, and with less than an hour to go before the midnight deadline, he officially affiliated himself with GANA, a small centre-right party.
Pretty awesome sub-story. It's kind of weird that people are more than willing to conspire under the thinest veil of plausible deniability, yet won't conspire when it's removed. It's like a child protecting itself from monsters by hiding under a blanket.
The operations to reclaim the barrios had put the gang members in a defensive posture. For months, the homicide rate had been extraordinarily low as gang members were forced into hiding. But on March 26th 2022, the gangs went on a killing spree, targeting street vendors, bus passengers, and grocery shoppers. It was El Salvador’s bloodiest day since the civil war. The gangs intended to send a message to the government.
The reaction by the government was swift and resolute. In the early hours the next day, the National Assembly passed a state of emergency and a state of exception. The gangs had treated the public as hostages, now the president began treating their imprisoned homeboys similarly. Meal rations were cut, mattresses and clothes were taken away, the inmates now wore only underwear and slept on concrete. The President vowed that if there were any more waves of gang violence that the imprisoned gang members would not be fed “a single grain of rice.”
I want to share more of it, but I'd just recommend reading it all. There's no mention of Bitcoin at all, but it tells a favorable portrait of Bukele, which I won't believe the face of, yet I did learn more about Bukele's tenure and El Salvador from this article than I had in any other (if only because it was written well).