El Salvador President Nayib Bukele Takes Blame For Drowned Father And Daughter Migrants

Nayib Bukele promises to tackle corruption, crime and unemployment to stop citizens from leaving their homeland.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele Amid speaks in Mexico.
Toya Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

Nayib Bukele promises to tackle corruption, crime and unemployment to stop citizens from leaving their homeland.

As the bodies of a migrant Salvadoran man and his daughter who drowned attempting to cross the Rio Grande are being laid to rest, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said that his country is to blame.

Friends, relatives and other well-wishers, including Salvadoran Interior Minister Mario Durán, carried flowers to the burial site at La Bermeja cemetery on Monday in southern San Salvador to bury the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, according to an Associated Press story syndicated by MSN News.

“This is very painful, most of all because of the baby. They went in search of a better future, but everything came to an end in the river,” family friend Reyna Moran told The AP.

The gut-wrenching photograph showing the young girl tucked inside her father’s shirt, as they lie face down on the banks of the river has become a symbol of the humanitarian crisis faced by asylum-seekers trying to cross into the U.S.

According to The New York Times, Bukele issued an unusual statement in response to questions from reporters about the deaths pointing the blame on his homeland. He stated that his citizens are leaving in droves to emigrate to the U.S. due to increasingly unstable economic and security issues.

“We can speak blame to any other country, but what about our blame?” Bukele said. “I mean, what country did they flee? Did they (flee) the United States? They fled El Salvador. They fled our country. It is our fault.”

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In a promise to the people to improve the quality of life in his country, the new leader, who was elected in February, said he is ready to work with the U.S. government to reduce the number of people making the perilous migration. The 37-year-old Salvadoran president said that the U.S. would not be the one to find a resolution to migration issues and that he was confident that, by tackling the corruption, crime and mass unemployment in El Salvador, it would reduce the flow of migrants.

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to,” Bukele said. “They flee their homes because they feel they have to.”

According to a 2015 United Nations report on refugees from El Salvador, between 500,000 and 600,000 of the country’s 6.3 million population are believed to be linked to gangs. The rate of murders motivated by gender in El Salvador is the highest in the world.