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The Photo Rocked Us. He Just Took Responsibility

President Nayib Bukele says migrants' deaths in Rio Grande is on El Salvador
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2019 1:40 PM CDT
In this March 12, 2019 file photo, El Salvador's President-elect Nayib Bukele speaks to the press at Mexico's National Palace after meeting with the President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

(Newser) – Oscar Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to reach the US. Now, a country's leader has taken the blame for the incident, a photograph of which was shared far and wide. The president of El Salvador on Sunday said the fault lies with his own country—the country Martinez was trying to leave. The BBC quotes Nayib Bukele as saying "we can blame any other country, but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States? They fled El Salvador, they fled our country. It is our fault." Bukele, who has held office for just a month, did admonish the US for "approaching this in the wrong way," a reference to America's attempts to block migrants from entering, per Newsweek. But he added that migration "should be an option, not an obligation. And right now it's an obligation for a lot of people."

The New York Times called the 37-year-old Bukele's statements, which came in response to reporters' questions, "remarkable," noting the region's leaders "have been loath to assume any responsibility" for the economic and security concerns at home that fuel migration and "have generally paid lip service to the idea" that things need to get better within their own borders if they want more people to be willing to stay. The Times makes clear just how many have left, citing a stat that places the population of Salvadorans in the US at nearly 1.4 million; just five times that many people live in El Salvador. (Here's what Martinez's mother had to say about her son's death.)

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