Interview with Óscar Martínez, journalist for El Faro and “The Hollywood Kid” writer
Óscar Martínez (San Salvador, 1983) is among the most knowledgeable journalists about Mexican and Central American migration, and the reasons for it: gang violence and corruption. When migration wasn’t a hot topic in mainstream media, Martinez rode The Beast, the cargo train that crosses Mexico and that was how migrants used to cross through the dangerous country. He reported on the ground and conducted journalistic investigations into why people left the three Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). In 2010, he published Los migrantes que no importan, translated The Beast, Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail into English. The book follows migrations routes to tell the story of migrants crossing Mexico to reach the US border, detailing the perils that they endure and the reasons why they do it. Six years later he published A History of Violence, in which he explored how violence and gangs originated in El Salvador, the smallest in Latin America, and still one of the most violent. In 2015 the country reached 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Martinez has co-written Jonathan no tiene tatuajes (2010) and Crónicas negras desde una región que no cuenta (2013), books that compiled long and unhurried articles that he and other reporters wrote for Salvador’s El Faro, one of the most prestigious Latin American digital media. In 2018, Martinez won the Hillman Prize. In 2016, he was honored with the Maria Moors Cabot Award and the International Press Freedom Award by Committee to Protect Journalists.
His most recent book follows three years during the life and death of Miguel Angel Tobar, a Mara Salvatrucha hitman. “The Hollywood Kid” is co-written with his brother Juan José Martínez, a sociocultural anthropologist who recently infiltrated Mara Salvatrucha (more commonly known in the US as MS-13) for a year and published his results in the book See, Hear and Shut Up.
Martinez works as an editor of special investigations for El Faro, where he joined in 2008 after quitting a regular journalist position that didn’t make sense to him. El Faro is the first online media in Latin America providing in-depth and slow reporting about organized crime, violence and migration. With Martinez’s help, El Faro devoted one section titled “En el Camino” two understand and cover migration in depth, and later “Sala Negra” to cover and understand violence in Central America.
Martinez is quick and smart and speaks with passion that sometimes denotes rage. He says this profession has made him more irascible: “I was a happier person before.” His language can be both intellectual and vulgar; he apologizes for the latter, saying it is the way the message gets through to people. He compares his approach to slow-drop water torture: “I want to be like the drop in Chinese water torture that penetrates the people’s brains…I don’t want to create empathy, I want to provoke anger,” he says. His answers are both explicit and narrative, like if you were watching a movie. A self-declared pessimist, you can glimpse hints of wit and frustration between all his tales of misfortune, and an absolute understanding of the brutal and ugly sides of a job to which he has devoted himself.
The country where you come from is one of the deadliest countries in the world without an official war declaration, but where there was a recent civil war that lasted 12 years. Why is El Salvador so violent?
Martínez recently reported from the Guatemalan-Mexican border, where the policies implemented by Central American politicians under Trump’s pressure have worsened immigrants’ situation. A year ago, a caravan of migrants left Honduras; it went on to become the first caravan to visibly migrate through Mexico. The migrants in the caravan didn’t know that they would get stuck behind a literal wall. Since then, Trump has made it very difficult to ask for asylum in the United States. One obstacle is the “safe third country” policy, which requires immigrants seeking asylum in the US to be denied asylum in other countries first. For instance, if you are from Honduras and you have to cross through Guatemala and Mexico before getting to the United States border, in order to be able to ask for asylum in the United States first you will have to ask for it in Guatemala and Mexico and have it denied in these countries to be eligible for asylum in the United States. That affects immigrants that come from other places besides Central America such China, Cuba or African countries. The new Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele signed on September 20th, 2019 the “safe third country” agreement which was signed as well by Guatemala and Honduras.
El Salvador is a deeply violent country. By the numbers, in 2015 we had the highest homicide rate in the world, 103 homicides for each 100,000 habitants. These are open war proportions, if not worse. During the civil war years, the average was 80 killings per each 100,000 people, with a very bad [i.e inaccurately low] official count–like what happened in 2015, there was an [undercount]. Now, the official death toll is going down.
Besides that, El Salvador is populated with people who don’t live in a country but in chunks of a country. The 14 departments of the country have a ghost demarcation, [i.e. de facto borders that gangs enforce but are] not on the books, because the de facto border is the demarcation of violence, in a country completely hugged by violence and people have gotten used to living like this. We have learned to tolerate high levels of violence, so that it looks normal to us that these kinds of things happen. We don’t think it is good: we are not crazy, neither are we stupid. It is just that it seems normal to us. To build such violent societies you need to have different causes that have participated in building them. One fundamental part has been the military dictatorships in Central America and the incompetence of Central American politicians. But other important factor has been the United States administrations. The configuration of current El Salvador–with a weak and destroyed state that has around 600,000 youth in gangs in a country of 5 million people–is responsibility of two countries: El Salvador and the United States.
As a matter of fact, in your most recent book “The Hollywood kid”, you explain what happened in the 80’s when US President Ronald Reagan deported Salvadoran immigrants, and his responsibility in the current situation with the spread of gangs in the country. Can you explain that?
So many people fled El Salvador during the civil war but also before, because the United States still was a place for prosperity and there was a huge labour need and little legislation on undocumented people. There was also a big Latino community in the United States. During the Salvadoran civil war years, these people were fleeing a war sponsored by the United States. The US invested a million dollars per day in the cruelest moments of the war. The war was fought in Salvadoran land, but the ideological war wasn’t fought by El Salvador. The tail end of the Cold War headed for Central America.
At the same time, the US was funding a murderous army [i.e. death squads]. The civil war started when a conspiracy among members of the El Salvadoran Military– and that’s in the United Nations Truth Report [Report of The UN Truth Commission on El Salvador]–shot a bullet to [Liberation Theology Archbishop] Monseñor Romero’s chest, who is now a Catholic saint. [Monseñor Romero had a great influence over his community and wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter asking him to stop the US financing of death squads against human rights defenders, union leaders and civilians before his assassination.] This operative was directed by Roberto d’Aubuisson, who was also my cousin. [d’Aubuisson founded the death squads when he was a major in the Salvadoran army.] The second thing the army did was when the Atlacatl Battalion [a counter-insurgency battalion created in 1980 at the U.S. Army’s School of Americas] committed the Mozote massacre in 1981, where around 1000 people were killed. [The Mozote massacre is the largest massacre of modern times in Latin America, where government forces killed 989 people in the small village of El Mozote.] The United States knew what they were funding: an army trained to kill. The majors of Atlacatl Battalion were trained in the School of the Americas. [The School of the Americas was a U.S. army center founded in 1964 in Panama that trained 64,000 South American soldiers and police in counter-insurgency and combat skills, many of whom were later torturers and killers in death squads. The School relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia, after being expelled from Panama in 1984 and it is still working under a different name.] People were fleeing because of that.
When these people arrived in California, the society of the United States, instead of asking them if they wanted to live in peace, they asked them if they knew how to fight. They were left forgotten in the South LA ghettos, around MacArthur Park in an ecosystem of 64 different gangs of Blacks, Mexicans, Caribbean and white supremacists. Some of these Salvadorans that fled had battled with rifles since they were 10 years old. They hadn’t fought on the streets, they had killed in the mountains. When the United States concluded that this group of youth that had come together in order to protect themselves, the Mara Salvatrucha, was a problem, the US reacted by deporting them. These 4,000 deportees between 1989 and 1994–commanded by some North American advisor that might have a beautiful house in the streets of Washington–are now 63,000 only in my country, and they have produced dead rates that surpass 4,000 homicides per year. The United States injected that most lethal shot, and that has us now the way we are.
Trump talks constantly of an “invasion” of people that comes to the US border and also of gang members. He went to Long Island after the killings in Brentwood and Central Ipsil. Is it true that the Mara is spreading in the East Coast of the US?
Yes, MS-13 has spread, not in the year that Trump said but approximately in 2012. That isn’t new. The Mara Salvatrucha was created thanks to deportations. When the US did its first deportation plan in 1989, the MS-13 only existed in California. According to the Trump administration, now it exists in 40 states. The deportations have never been useful for reducing gang activity because the gang learns to communicate internationally. They don’t communicate to commit serious felonies like trafficking uranium, but for example a cousin that is part of the gang and remains in the US communicates with another one that has been deported to El Salvador. And these two precarious clicas, “poor mobs,” start to have a relationship. Very simple. The gangs in the East Coast grew a lot with Obama’s deportations. From the 3 million deportees that Obama sent out of the US], a huge amount were sent back to El Salvador. The gangs started to have a bigger bond from people that came from the US, that caused them to have a structure in which members didn’t know the gang in El Salvador, but through other deportees they started to know each other and they started to commit minor crimes and extortion from El Salvador to the United States, meaning “I am going to kill your aunt in El Salvador if you don’t pay money in LA.” All of this already existed [before Americans became aware of MS-13 as a threat], and it’s because the system of deportations, because of the same mindset that believes that creating more walls will end immigration. Gangs have always been a very powerful political asset because of their imagery. They are brutal groups. They are brutal killers. They look like the bad guys of a Marvel superhero story. They have tattoos in their faces. They are the perfect bad guys. But, they are a disorganized mob, a poor people’s mob. They live in precarious houses in El Salvador and they eat tortillas with lemon and salt. For governments that want to look tough on crime, confronting a mob like this is better than dealing with the Sinaloa Cartel [an international drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime syndicate established in 1980 and whose famous leader El Chapo Guzmán was considered the most powerful drug trafficker of the world; he is now
incarcerated in the U.S.]. It makes sense because you are going to see better results. You present an operative and you show 50 dudes with their faces tattooed. Tackling the Sinaloa Cartel would be very difficult because you would have to go after prosecutors, marshals of some towns, US border patrol officers and people with business attire. The logic of going after a gang comes from some cold war US movie where the bad guys were really bad and the good ones really good. This was the US logic that was already used in Vietnam, where it didn’t turn out really well, but they go on with it. The real problem why the MS-13 is growing in Long Island is not that it is a well-organized mob with lots of money, but that in [Kellenberg Memorial High School] in Uniondale, Long Island, NY, where 5 teenagers have been killed since 2015, there are only two social workers for 2,600 students. There are only two people who attend teenagers that come from violent conflicts and who live among an ecosystem where there are more than 5 gangs: the Bloods, The Crips, los Vatos Locos, la 18, la MS-13… These young people have high levels of stress and harassment, their parents have 5 jobs per day and they don’t see them. In order to solve the MS-13 problem, it would be better to have 5 psychologists and 10 social workers instead of police officers that harass young Latinos. But to deploy 10 psychologist doesn’t get you many votes.
Trump has used immigration as a big strategy for his electoral campaign and seems to keep using it with regard to the 2020 election. How do you define Trump’s immigration policy? Why do you think it differs from other presidents?
I think Trump has marked an era but he doesn’t look to me like a complex person. When I talk about him I feel like I am reproducing some cliches. I believe he is over diagnosed. He is a racist who represents so many racist people in this country–including Hispanic immigrants who don’t want more migrants. If you think about TPS, Temporary Protected Status, [a program that allows people from countries that have experienced natural disasters to work temporarily in the US] for instance, that is a solution to the immigration problem and the problems that Trump, as a racist persons, keeps repeating, like “Migrants are murderers and rapists.” For you to be able to have TPS, you have to be a damned model citizen of this country. You have to pay your taxes on time. You have to deal every year with an enormous amount of bureaucracy in order to renew your work permit. If you commit a crime you go to hell. Since it was created, the TPS has grown a lot because there is a huge amount of labour demand. The wall couldn’t be built if you didn’t have Latino immigrants working. There are three companies that have been fined because they had undocumented workers building the wall. The TPS is a model that would allow [companies] to have a job listing and whoever comes into the country undocumented couldn’t access this job listing. I bet that if you make this job listing grow and offer this to Central Americans, you will have one hundred thousand fewer undocumented migrants each year. People would wait in line for three years if they were given a real chance to come into the country and have the possibility to work. If you keep telling them you have to suffer an earthquake to be able to come into the country, they will keep jumping the wall. It is a misconception that we, as Central Americans, have something destroyed in our DNA and that there are no rules that contain us. It is ridiculous. People in Central America understand. The tepesianos [TPS holders] are the perfect neighbors that every American wants to have.
How do you think the administration of Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is dealing with immigration? What do you think about the Remain in Mexico policy, [officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, which doesn’t allow asylum seekers to wait for their court dates in the U.S anymore, so they are sent back to Tijuana to wait for the hearings]?
I just came from Mexico where I was presenting my book in el Zócalo and I could perceive the booing of myself by the people who gave him the 80% of approval that he has. But I want to explain something. Journalism is not the job of applauses. I learned that long time ago. I am not judging the president of a country of 130 million, people but in terms of immigration, AMLO lied to Central American migrants: it’s that simple. He promised something to the migrants that came in the caravan when he opened the Tucuman bridge, and then he lied. Now, the administration of AMLO has accepted things that PRI administration [Institutional Revolutionary Party, the party in power during the prior administration] had already accepted but even more so, meaning that when the US pressures us, we become the south wall. But in addition, in migration terms, AMLO has had the same servile attitude. Trump didn’t offer to improve the conditions for Mexican immigrants or to stop building the wall, whereas Obama promised migration reform. AMLO has become a human wall for the man who is building you a physical wall. Trump threatened to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports to the United States and humiliated AMLO’s administration the same way he has been humiliating Mexico since he was a candidate calling Mexican immigrants “rapists”. This humiliation that Mexico accepted created so many deaths and rapes. Because AMLO’s logic after the caravans was, “Now you have to migrate for the hills, go to migrate again in the shadow. In Mexico’s shadows, they rape. In Mexico’s shadows, they kill.. Because Mexico is a country that doesn’t control its shadows. Those of us who have reported Mexico know that very well. Mexico neither control its towns nor its public land, in these places the state is absent. México has sent migrants to the other Mexico. And we all know who rules this other Mexico.
Has become more dangerous to immigrate, then?
Yes, more dangerous or more expensive, however you want to see it. If you want to migrate with a coyote you have to pay to more people, and coyotes have raised prices.
What has changed for immigrants crossing Mexico since you wrote your first book The Beast in 2010, after spending three years following immigrants riding the train through Mexico?
The route has been completely modified since Peña Nieto [Mexico’s previous president] started with this strange plan Frontera Sur [a US funded plan known as the Southern Border Program, created in 2014 to tackle increasing immigration from Central America] and he sold it as a humanitarian plan. I think that the only humanitarian thing that the plan had was to go chase humans. He put stronger security in the train and people had to board the train when it was already moving which is extremely dangerous and hard. So now it is a natural selection of immigrants: only the strong, the fast, the agile, the ones that don’t carry babies can board this train moving. The routes started to change: immigrants went down to the coast and there are new routes by bus that go through Central Mexico. The new map of migration has not been told yet and I can’t tell it yet.
At the end of 2018, the immigrant caravan made visible the act of migrating. What do you think this caravan changed? Do you think it was used to justify the “invasion” that Trump and right wing journalists talked about, as well as to impose tough immigration policies?
Let me say something. I am a pessimistic person and other people assess this in other ways. I think the caravan was a brave act of political consciousness from the mass of poor the Central Americans. Some people said that behind the caravan there was Donald Trump, George Soros or even the Honduran president. These are ideas of people who think that poor people of Central America are so stupid that they can’t understand their own story and they need a millionaire’s hand to move them like sheep. I don’t think that’s how it was. The caravan has been an allergic reaction of people who in their families’ DNA have lived the disgrace [i.e. the hardships of immigration, such as sexual violence, kidnapping, trauma, lost limbs, etc.] in Mexico and who one day understood that if they migrated together it would turn out better for them. They would be less raped and less robbed. But this brave political act of the nobodies of the region has become a weapon against them. Mexican society has embraced the idea that caravans generated the problem. El Salvador has created its own border patrol, Guatemala created something called “operación gobernanza,” [Governance Operation] and Honduras has deployed its anti-riots police in order to stop caravans. Central America has started to chase Central Americans in Central America.
And that didn’t happen before?
No. Before, you could go to the other side and buy tortillas and come back to eat chicken in Guatemala. It is nonsense that this politicians understand caravans as an affront, and not as a desperate call from immigrants.
You were recently reporting from the Mexico-Guatemala border. What did you see there?
Right now there are a lot of migrants stopped on the Central American side of the border, as well as a series of corrupted police that chase migrants, assaulting them. My brother infiltrated as an immigrant and was assaulted three times by Guatemalan police. There is a pocket of immigrants retained in the south of Mexico. Coming in is more problematic now and the problem is to move forward because doing that through the hills is dangerous and coyotes are expensive. This desperation to move forward has created pockets of migration in very precarious situations in the border. There are women giving oral sex for $2 in the chaotic border brothels of Guatemala. There are women having sex with three men for $10. And for instance, in the Tapachula brothels there are Cuban women who have physical attributes that are more liked by the men that visit these places so the 40 years old women gives you head for $5. And I am saying that in the worst way because I think it is the way that resonates more. The pockets of migrants that are retained in the south have desperate working conditions, in very surprising levels. There are people who work a whole day in the corn fields in exchange for a breakfast. We saw a group of 5 Honduran female migrants that in exchange for beer and dinner were spread on tables available for men to fuck them. What do you sell in Tenosique? Bananas. That’s the jungle. What do you sell in Tapachula? Sex. But there are so many women selling sex that they have to give it so cheap.
The situation has worsened a lot then…
It has worsened in this fringe. I am going to say something positive. The Zetas are not anymore in the Atlantic fringe, although still they are in the north. We are not seeing a process of disappearance of the organized crime against immigrants but a process of substitution. The last seven kidnapping reports of migrant women in the 72 shelter of Tenosique, Tabasco, have been perpetrated by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación. I think this new cartel is learning the business now.
Did Lopez Obrador have more scope for action? Maybe the three Central American countries that signed “secure country agreements” didn’t have as much room to maneuver or maybe it was already fine with them. When Guatemala was trying to step back from the agreement, Trump threaten the country with a tax on remittances. Do you think Mexico had a bigger negotiation power because it’s a bigger country? Could Mexico have confronted Trump 5% tariff threat?
With no doubt whatsoever. We are not doing so good accepting the US help. The US doesn’t accept the Central America disaster as a shared responsibility. It sees this help like spare change. They are giving us literally spare change which is not an important part of the collective budget of Central American countries. Central America should try to stop receiving this spare change and come together. The only subject that could reunite us is immigration because the same women are raped in Mexico, the same migrants are charged by coyotes, and they are all going to same wall. Central America should tantrum. Mexico shares 3,150 km border with the US and more than 1,200 km with Central America. Mexico detains between 250,000 and half million migrants every year. If Mexico opens this valve [of human immigration], the US would negotiate. We haven’t been successful without opposition. Obama deported three million. Clinton started to build the wall in Tijuana. Trump calls us animals and deports more gang members than any president before. We are not getting anything by being good with the US just for $100 million in aid. Why we don’t ask China for help? The US isn’t the only way.
In your last book “The Hollywood Kid”, co-written with your brother Juan José Martínez, you explain that being part of a gang is a matter of identity, protection and family. Are gangs the answer that young people have found in a society where the administration has forgotten them?
The gangs are only a reaction to a society that offered nothing to its teenagers. After the war, there was the peace agreement but that was a political agreement which was never meant to be a social or economic one. There was no time for a whole base [of soldiers who would later become gang members] that was losing the war. And there were people who had a PhD in guns. They didn’t know how to do anything else. The post-war period was very violent without institutions to attend to the children and youth. Gangs are a complex mob because it has to do with cultural identity. The Mexican cartels are economic mobs. If I am a hitman for the Sinaloa Cartel and they pay me, I kill. Likewise, if the Zetas pay me more, I will kill for them.
But gangs have to do with who you are in the world. And if you are Miguel Angel Tobar, the Hollywood Kid, when you are 10 years old and you are the son of a poor coffee field worker, you will be always poor, you will see your sister being raped by another worker in the coffee field and one day someone comes to you and says you can quit being Miguel Angel Tobar and be the Hollywood Kid. Then, you will have weapons, you will be respected and your life will have meaning. Who doesn’t want a meaningful life at this age? Gang is family–but as a gang member used to say, it is composed by an abusive father.– In the gang there are values. When Miguel Angel killed for the first time he got a phone call from a jail and he was congratulated by men that had so much prestige, even though he didn’t know why they were prestigious. For the first time, it existed the word “retribution” in his life. He felt it was the happiest day of his life. Unfortunately, what these people do is killing. This is the gang. A shitty option for young people who only had shitty options in their lives.
What’s your opinion about the reporting that is done in the US about immigration?
I think it’s very deficient, very comfortable. There are excellent examples of people that do it amazingly good but they are very few. Generally, people remain for a short time in immigration. And so many people go for the easy way when they start the article saying that
“the tear was rolling down his face.” They usually roll down this way [i.e. tears roll down the face]. People remain too short and understand so little. There is also so much parachute
journalism, people that come just for a massacre and then leave. My brother works as a fixer for so many journalists and in an article for the Altair magazine he says that some journalists come with lists: I want a gang member that has killed so many people. I don’t work as a fixer and I never will. A colleague here in the US that knows how to speak Spanish once asked me: “Do you have someone that has been deported and killed?” I answered him: “I don’t have anyone, and I don’t keep people in a closet in order to satisfy dumb questions like yours.”
In one interview you said: “I am tired of journalists with good intention but without method.” What did you mean?
Many journalists go to a place to tell a story that is already in their heads. Who is going to say that immigrants from this town suffer if they are going to be suffering before the journalists arrives? I am tired of people doing interviews that victimize immigrants. “Where did they kill your son? How did they kill him? Did you suffer?” It is your job to find out where the son was killed and how, and it’s obvious that she suffered. Don’t come to the table with good intentions, but then not listen and go to sleep with a clear conscience. You went two days there and didn’t understand anything. Activism is a great profession but it is not journalism. And whoever doesn’t understand that has to quit the job because it is hurting it so much. If an immigrant raped another immigrant in the train you have to tell that. But you cannot just build a good guy, these are very Manichean terms.
How did the smallest country in Latin America (by size) and one of the most violent manage to have a digital newspaper like El Faro that specializes in investigative journalism and in-depth reporting?
It has to do with the kind of country that we were. I didn’t found El Faro. It was founded by Carlos Dada, Jorge Siman and Jose Luis Sanz. I came in with the project En el Camino. We had similar convictions. El Faro emerged from journalists that didn’t like the journalism that they were reading and from reporters that were willing to leave their calm and economically good lives behind. I am going to tell you an anecdote that summarizes well the soul of the newspaper. The first time that we got a grant we could give a miserable salary to 4 reporters that allowed you at least to eat hot dogs in the corner. When the grant ended only two of them could keep working there. But the two that were chosen decided to break up the miserable salaries in order to keep the other two and then they couldn’t even eat hot dogs anymore. El Faro is founded on the solidity of people who have in their DNA a terrible but powerful conviction that this job can change things. This motivation goes beyond money. I don’t work in El Faro, I am El Faro and I work with these people that are El Faro because El Faro is a DNA [i.e. a family and an identity] and a way to understand the job. El Faro was a seed that was well sowed, because other media said that they came up inspired by El Faro like El Confidencial in Nicaragua, Plaza Publica and Nomada in Guatemala and many others.
What’s the way to end gangs?
The state has to do intelligent repression, dismantling the gang leadership is important. El Salvador needs to improve its justice system because it is a good place to kill. Only 1 out of 10 murders go to trial. There are prosecutors with 500 homicide cases because they don’t expire for 15 years. But I think that in order to attack the gangs, it is better to cut its legs rather than its head. Any kid who was happy at school, that was part of a sports club and had a relationship with his parents, who was not aggressive and dysfunctional, wouldn’t choose to be a gang member. Gangs are the choice of desperate people. If the state would invest in early childhood, if it would invest in schools, if it would reinforce the family care units for family abuse due to sexist aggressions, so many things would change.
What’s your opinion of the new Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele? He signed the “secure country agreement” and he said that Donald Trump was a “very cool guy.” In his UN speech he took a selfie but never mentioned immigrants.
He is someone who is born from a place that he himself built. He emerges after a disastrous generation of politicians, in a highly polarized country. There were only two parties, the guerrilla FMLN or the right wing ARENA. Bukele destroyed the bipartisanship when he was just 39 years old. When he came into power I think he didn’t know what to do, he seemed lost to me. He has a strong opposition and his megalomania brought him to very dangerous positions. He understands that he has a 93% job approval rate among those who vote, who were only 1.5 million in a 4 millions census. When he came into power he banned us from the press conferences because he doesn’t want to be questioned. He has given himself into Trump all the way, creating a border patrol. He has armored information with obscure people that don’t allow the information to come out, and he has done all that under the excuse that the other [politicians who came before him] were trash. I think it is ignoble to say that the others were trash; precisely [the people of El Salvador] chose you because they were fed up with that trash. But if your comparison criteria is going to be this common pattern of politicians, we don’t want to see how the others were; we want to see how you will be. It is easy to argue in negative terms. I would like someone who argues in positive terms. He is obsolete in this idea and he has surrounded himself by people more concerned in flattering him than in questioning him. And if a journalist without being questioned is useless, imagine a politician.