On Sunday, Salvadoran President Nayeb Buckeli arrived at the Legislative Assembly with a group of soldiers in uniform and carrying automatic weapons. Parliament wants To approve a loan of $ 109 million From the Central American Development Bank so that he can purchase helicopters, night vision goggles, a video surveillance system, a boat, and other equipment for the army to fight crime, propose his central policy to address the country’s gang problem.
This was the most visible display of brute force since the end of the civil war in 1992. However, the United States and the European Union only issued a slight rebuke. It will take more than that to persuade a man who shows a total disregard for the balance of democratic forces.
Mr. Bockelli, who holds a minority in Congress, protested Article 167 to hold an extraordinary session this weekend to support the deal. According to legal experts, Article 167 can only be used for Calling Congress back from vacation when a natural disaster or disaster occurs, Failure to do the president’s presentation.
On Saturday, he had Remove the police Those assigned to protect legislators and replace them with heavily armed military and national police, who surrounded the Legislative Assembly and deployed snipers to the surface. When lawmakers refused to attend, he accused them of tearing up the constitutional order. He sent the soldiers to the lawmakers ’rebel homes to order them to appear. His political allies across the country arranged buses to bring in hundreds of protesters in the streets surrounding Congress.
On Sunday, accompanied by soldiers with automatic rifles, Mr. Bockelli entered the Legislative Chamber and occupied the president of the body, who did not attend. He bowed his head and prayed for three minutes. When he looked up, he told the few soldiers and deputies present that he was “talking to God,” who was lucky to them, urging patience. He announced that he would give Congress a week to approve the loan. In a letter to his supporters abroad, he said It will remove legislators from the legislature If he needs to.
“So they will make us vote with a gun on the head? “This is not how democracy works,” said Leonardo Bonilla, an independent deputy who supported many of Mr. Bockelli’s proposals and was one of the few who attended the session.
Mr Bukele relies on a high degree of support and charges of corruption surrounding the eclipse warnings that he is treading on institutional protection. He also relied on the Salvadorans to support him A strict approach to crime To address one of The highest murder rates in the world, along with alarming rates of sexual violence and disappearances.
On Monday, the Supreme Court of El Salvador Suspend any actions resulting from the emergency session He ordered Mr. Bockelli to refrain from using the military in unconstitutional ways and “endanger the republican, democratic, and representative system of government.” This judgment, a brave act possible due to the many decades of slow democratic progress that has helped an independent judiciary to establish its roots, deserves praise and support from inside and outside El Salvador.
It was disappointing to see only an inconspicuous reminder of foreign powers and international institutions that could stem Mr. Bockelli’s authoritarian retreat. The European Union delegation to El Salvador, expressing its “deep concern”, rightly expressed the importance of the rule of law, respect for political pluralism and the separation of powers in its response, but then he posed a wrong equation, and called on both Presidents and the Legislative Assembly to respect institutional independence. To be clear, it is not Congress that has crossed its borders, it is President Bockeley.
The US ambassador to El Salvador said that he does not agree with the military presence in the association, while recognizing the calls for “patience”, echoing the term used by President Bockelli.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, was Tweeted in the midst of the crisis he spoke with the Foreign Minister of El Salvador and that she had expressed her respect for the country’s institutions. These words exploded in the wind when President Bockelli and his heavily armed military escort invaded the Legislative Assembly building on Sunday.
The United States must call for an urgent meeting under the Democratic Charter, which aims to protect the separation of powers, to deal with this flagrant attempt to undermine the rule of law. O.A.S. Member states must constantly interact with this kind of anger, regardless of political ideology or popular support for our leaders. Their silence can be interpreted as tacit support. They should not normalize President Bush’s brazen attacks on democratic institutions. There should be no room for double standards.
Jose Miguel Vivanco (@ JMVivancoHRW) is director of the Americas at Human Rights Watch.
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