El Salvador’s President:  ‘People Flee . . . Because They Feel They Have To’

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“People don’t flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to,” El Salvador’s president said Sunday.

Nayib Bukele told a briefing in San Salvador that the death of a father and his young daughter who drowned trying to reach the United States was “tragic.”

The photograph of the two migrants, face down in the river between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas, with the nearly 2-year-old girl’s arm across her father’s neck has garnered worldwide attention. Their bodies were returned to El Salvador Sunday for burial in a private ceremony in the capital Monday.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, second from right, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, right, show their signed agreements in Tapachula, Mexico, June 20, 2019

“It is our fault,” Bukele said. “We haven’t been able to provide anything. Not a decent job, not a decent school.”

“We have to focus on making our country better and make our country a place where nobody has to migrant,” the president said. He added that he thought migration “should be an option, not an obligation.”

Bukele said the United States migration policies are “wrong.” The leader of the small Central American country called on the U.S. to work with El Salvador to help make the country a safe place to live, where people can be gainfully employed.

“It would be so easy to help us provide those two things. It would be a lot cheaper,” Bukele said.

“Here in El Salvador, you have to cross three frontiers, rivers … to get into a country that will not treat you well,” Bukele said. “Not only because of President Trump’s policies, but just because of the fact that you are a third-class citizen. And even if you cross, then you will not have papers, you will be called an illegal.”

President Bukele said the U.S. doesn’t “want our people and I want our people here.”

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