El Salvador’s parliament removes checks and balances on President Bukele’s powers. But why aren’t more Salvadorans protesting what is happening?
On May 1, the newly elected Salvador legislature began its three-year term. This day is usually a formality with activities such as the swearing-in ceremony of all newly elected deputies. But not this time.
In an unprecedented move, the Legislative Assembly
El Salvador’s new parliament has 56 deputies that belong to New Ideas (Nuevas Ideas in Spanish), the political party created by President Nayib Bukele in 2018. With a qualified majority of the total 84 seats, Nuevas Ideas has absolute control of the Salvadoran Congress.
Through these two actions, the Legislative Assembly removed all possible checks and balances on Bukele’s powers, thus creating a heated debate on the state of El Salvador’s democracy, which emerged out of a 12-year internal conflict that ended in 1992.
Since May 1, many individuals, organizations, and governments have condemned the removal of judges and the attorney general, Raúl Melara. Since November 2020, the Attorney General’s Office has conducted over 20 raids on different branches of government.
The attorney general had
Although the new magistrates have the
Salvadorans could have known more about the new magistrates if the Legislative Assembly had conducted an open process of elections, as is the usual procedure.
The United States Committee on Foreign Relations issued a condemning
“We have deep concerns about El Salvador’s democracy, in light of the National Assembly’s vote to remove constitutional court judges. An independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy – and to a strong economy,”
The European Union also
“On their first day with a majority, Bukele supporters in El Salvador’s National Assembly request the ousting of all the magistrates of Constitutional Chamber. Bukele attacks the rule of law and seeks to concentrate all the power in his hands,
Some local organizations and individuals called the move a “technical coup d’etat.” The five members of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court — the very people that the legislators voted to remove – declared the destitution of judges was
That is a low number considering that more than 1.5 million people live in the city of San Salvador and surrounding areas. Valencia wrote in the
Despite longstanding criticism of Bukele’s authoritarianism, most Salvadorans support Bukele and the New Ideas political party. Evidence of this support is apparent in Bukele’s consistently high approval rating, which has hovered around 90 percent since last year.
Responding to the international criticism, Bukele repeated that the Salvadoran people voted for him and the new deputies to change the country, which has high rates of corruption, poverty, and violence.
“It took us 30 years to throw out the regime that had us in misery, corruption, insecurity, and hopelessness. They negotiated with the life of the people and ordered assassinations from institutions (there are videos of that). The people did not send us to negotiate. Everyone. Must. Go.
Ernesto Castro, now president of the Legislative Assembly, agreed with Bukele and listed the previous governments’ faults.
“Against those who have built an unfair country for decades From the outside, anyone can say what they want. But only the Salvadoran people understand what we mean when we say that we are cleaning the house. I repeat: God is guiding us and the people blesses us with their support.”
If what the legislative assembly did on May 1 is a sign of what is to come, there will be more changes in El Salvador, which will not be popular with the opposition and abroad.
Javier Simán, a prominent businessman and critic of Bukele and his political party, put it this way in a