El Salvador won the game to Costa Rica, Spain, New Zealand and Japan and will host the Mudial Surf Games 2020 of the International Surf Association, a surfing competition for the Olympics. Between May 9 and 17, 2020, surfers from all over the world will compete on the beaches of El Salvador to gain access to the Olympic debut of this sport in Tokyo, Japan in July and August this year.
In addition to putting El Salvador on the map of surfers around the world, the news comes at a time when the government of President Nayib Bukele is trying to improve the image of the country abroad. The international news coverage of El Salvador, usually focus on gang violence and forced migration. Once upon a time, US President Donald Trump. He also called it “shit hole.” For several years El Salvador has had one of the highest murder rates in the world without being an openly war country.
What made the high waves of El Salvador world famous was an important promise of Bukele's campaign, which welcomed the decision of the ISA and spread it openly in Twitter, your favorite communication tool. Your government star program “Surf City”Hopes to attract tourism and investment to the country's coasts.
El Salvador has been selected as the headquarters of the World Surf.
We compete against Japan, Australia, Costa Rica and Spain.
A historic World Cup that will serve as a classification for the first Olympics where surfing will participate.
It will be an honor to host this event. https://t.co/KsxNEwqI7k
– Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) January 13, 2020
Bukele took office in June 2019, and is considered a young president, with digital knowledge and entrepreneurship who has committed himself to fighting corruption and crime. According to the latest opinion polls, it retains a 91% approval rating, which makes it the most popular president in Latin America.
On some level, its popularity may be related to its tendency to seek unconventional ways to promote. In July 2019, for example, Bukele publicly urged his government to buy a MacBook Pro for the traveling bloggers of the Nomadic Movement who were robbed during his trip to El Salvador.
To date, government efforts seem to work. In 2019, foreign tourists spent 15% more in the country compared to the previous years.
But this relentless pressure on tourism dollars is worrying some families who fear being displaced by businesses. Booking a night at a beach hotel, for example, can cost more than half of the minimum wage in El Salvador, which currently It ranges between 113 and 242 US dollars per month, depending on the sector. Some beach hotels in El Salvador also have private beaches, making it difficult for local people to enjoy them.
Recently, the Minister of Tourism, Morena Valdez, told the German news site Deutsche Welle that the Salvadoran government is planning an “orderly urban transformation” to build family houses with government funds. But local communities see that plan as a displacement plan.
In October 2019, more than 300 riot police officers and soldiers attempted to expel at least 20 families from Tasajera Island with a court order. An entrepreneur has planned to build in the territory that, supposedly, is owned by the Salvadoran State. The community, which claims to have lived in the area for more than 30 years, has tried to challenge the order and the process is now frozen. What struck the islanders was the “excessive use of police forces,” according to local media La Prensa Gráfica.
On Twitter, the user Carlos Ramos published the investigation of the DW and mocked Bukele's supporters with an ironic imitation of what, generally, are considered as their common characteristics: unwavering loyalty, lack of trust in the media and mediocre spelling :
Eztoz pamphlets will not have been desir porke they encachimba ke the death toll goes down because people are happy with Surf City
Pagen impueztos and stop bothering my Prezi https://t.co/XbDkA8crM4
– Carlos Ramos Hinds (@ lapsurgeon10) January 16, 2020
The reactions of social networks
Some Salvadorans reacted negatively to the news that El Salvador will host the World Surf Games. They consider that Government attention to competition hide the daily struggles of the country with inequality and violence.
Moisés Rivera, founder of the NGO for the young Solidarity Leaders, imitated those who reacted happily to the news and compared it with other seemingly insignificant coverage of El Salvador. The memes he published are often used by Salvadorans who doubt the authenticity of the country's progress:
It is the first happiness in history that El Salvador has for hosting a surfing world cup; That happiness is only compared when Andy returned from the Rose Parade ?
Another moment like this will be unrepeatable ? pic.twitter.com/qscN4VheqT
– Moisés A. Rivera (@_MoisesRivera_) January 14, 2020
On January 1, 2020, Nayib Bukele decided publicly stop financing the musical band “El Salvador, great as its people”After the news that the young musician Andy Lovos was excluded from the band just before the Rose Parade.
Others compared the news with the grim reports about murders in the country. While El Salvador's overall homicide rate decreased by approximately 40% in 2019, homicide rates skyrocketed in the same week the surfing competition was announced. The local press attributed the increase in violence to the activities of gang members. Extortion also increases in El Salvador.
As an example, on Twitter, the user El Diablillo spread the news of a boy they found dead after being missing:
– The imp (@ElDiablillosv) January 13, 2020
Meanwhile, other users of social networks reacted positively to the news, with some tweets expressing their emotion for the opportunity to redefine the country's image or transmitted a feeling of pride in being Salvadorans:
This is good news! (beating ?? ?? ?? and ?? the venue was not so easy!)
An opportunity for our country to be on the lips of many for something positive.
We all have to be excellent hosts!
– AlfredoAtanacioCader (@aatanacio) January 13, 2020
In response to the promotional video of Surf City, another Twitter user thanked:
Excellent every day our country is growing worldwide and we will be recognized as entrepreneurs dedicated to our work and above all that is a country where you can come to vacation thanks uncle President @nayibbukele for making a better country
– chaparrita (@ chaparr77385360) January 14, 2020
Since El Salvador's reception of the next surfing competitions will attract worldwide attention to its beaches and waves, it remains to be seen whether it will hide or highlight the country's struggles for peace and development.