Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has given something to talk about after two key events in his relationship with the United States: the removal of a third of the judges and magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of El Salvador and the presentation to Congress of a proposal of Law of Foreign Agents to supposedly avoid the “interference”.
It should be noted that last May the New Ideas (NI) party, created by Bukele and the majority in the Legislative Assembly (Parliament), made a series of changes in the Judiciary, including the removal of the Attorney General, which were classified as “coup of State “on the part of opposition sectors and that were rejected by Washington. The statement from the United States embassy in El Salvador had mentioned that “the five previous magistrates were abruptly dismissed without legitimate cause after the new Legislative Assembly took office.”
Previously, in February 2020, military personnel invaded the headquarters of the Legislative Assembly and recently, last July, from the United States a list of names of Salvadoran officials accused of corruption was published in the so-called Engel List .
In the economic sphere, the president established a framework agreement with China that facilitates the execution of several projects financed by the Asian government. In this regard, the Acting Deputy Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States, Julie Chung, wrote a tweet addressed to Bukele: “Mr. President, nothing from China comes without conditions”, to which she replied through the same social network: “You they are China’s largest trading partner. ”
In addition, it approved the use of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal tender, which has generated protests in the population and curiosity from outside the Central American country. According to his government, the measure will help to recover the stagnant economy, dollarized two decades ago, by capturing the more than 400 million dollars in commissions generated by the remittances that Salvadorans send from abroad. Those shipments represent 22% of the country’s GDP.
In a statement, the State Department included the new five magistrates and the new Attorney General on its list of Anti-Democratic and Corrupt Actors accused of “undermining democratic processes.”
The tension in relations with Washington took a turn of the screw after Bukele declared that the United States finances social organizations that in his opinion are the “political opposition”, hence his government introduced the aforementioned law to the Legislative Assembly with the objective to:
“establish a legal regime applicable to natural or legal persons, national or foreign, whose activities within El Salvador respond to interests or are financed directly or indirectly by a foreigner.”
Bukele’s party, advised by Lester Toledo, a fugitive from anti-Chavez immersed in “humanitarian” scandals, directly points out organizations such as the National Development Foundation (FUNDE) and the NGO Cristosal to receive “millions of dollars a year without being known the origin or destination of the funds “.
At the beginning of last September the same Constitutional Chamber involved in the controversy issued a ruling that opens the possibility of Bukele’s reelection for a second term by ordering the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to allow a person who exercises the presidency of the Republic, and has not been president in the immediately preceding period, participate in the electoral contest for a second time. The president assumed the presidency in 2019 and would end his term in 2024, but did not hold the position in the previous period.
Meanwhile, the United States’ charge d’affaires, Jean Manes, announced on November 22 her departure from the Central American country without having appointed a new ambassador to a diplomatic legation that has been without this position for almost a year. The diplomat had already served as ambassador in El Salvador and, after Joe Biden took office, she was appointed acting charge d’affaires, pending the appointment of a new ambassador, which did not take place.
Manes had declared that relations were complicated after the White House sent “cooperation funds” to the country as a bridge to clarify the situation. However, the Bukele government decided not to accept it, which is why it stated that “new ways” are being sought to maintain cooperation with El Salvador.
The protests against Bukele have not stopped, last October thousands of Salvadorans took to the streets to demand his resignation, changes in favor of the nation, justice, decent wages, the human right to water, transparency, and a practical fight against corruption. .
Analysts such as the former president of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, Siegfried Reyes suspect that the sanctions announced from Washington are nothing more than “friction of a totally secondary nature” and that “Bukele will never fight thoroughly with Washington, much less Washington with Bukele “because between the two governments” there may be some discrepancies of a tactical nature, but they coincide on the strategic objectives. ”
Originally published by Mision Verdad.