Juan Pappier: The U.S. Government Has Changed its Strategy Towards El Salvador

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Aug 23rd, 2023

Juan Pappier, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas, confirms the U.S. Government has changed its strategy towards El Salvador. Pappier made the remarks in an interview with Wendy Monterrosa of Voz Publica.

I think they [U.S. government] have changed their strategy in part because they assume that there will be a Bukele for a while. And understand that if they go to a confrontational strategy now with Bukele, they lose the possibility of interacting with him. He will continue in the country for a long time. Juan Pappier.

For better or worse, Bukele is extremely popular in El Salvador, which practically guarantees him re-election in February 2024, stated Pappier. Bukele’s popularity gives him an easy path to a second presidential term.

The human rights specialist believes it would be a mistake for the Biden administration to put aside the issues of corruption, human rights violations, and the fracture of the rule of law in El Salvador.

“It is difficult to criticize a government that is as popular as the government of Nayib Bukele,” noted Pappier.

Pappier commented that previously, during the time Jean Manes was in charge of the U.S. embassy in El Salvador, there was a policy on her part and in the State Department of a more aggressive and more public strategy of criticism of the dismantling of the rule of law and the human rights violations by the Bukele administration.

According to Pappier, an example of this change is the meeting held on August 7 by the Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, with the Foreign Minister of El Salvador, Alexandra Hill Tinoco; they covered issues such as security, economy, and migration.

Another example of this change of approach is that the Engel list published this year does not include any officials from the Bukele administration, unlike what had happened in the past.

“The Engel list released this year carries a different message. Unlike the past, it doesn’t list any officials from the Bukele administration,” noted the Deputy Director of HRW’s Americas division.

It would be wrong for the Biden administration to be willing not to look at the issues of human rights, corruption, destruction of the rule of law with the idea that, in exchange for that, it can achieve cooperation on migration issues.” Juan Pappier.

Pappier remarked that although the U.S. government has changed its approach towards the Bukele administration, the most important thing is that the rule of law and respect for human rights in El Salvador continues to be a priority in foreign policy for the U.S. and El Salvador.

The human rights acting director assures that the country could be in a much better situation if President Bukele had listened to the complaints of national and international human rights organizations.

Click here to view the entire interview of Juan Pappier by Wendy Monterrosa. The complete interview is in Spanish.