President Bukele met on Tuesday with the diplomatic representatives of the UN, OAS and the European Union to give his version on the dismissals of the Supreme Court judges and the Attorney General. The U.S. embassy did not participate. | Photo: Twitter/@gpfmln
More controversial decisions are expected to be made in the second plenary session of Congress, convened for Wednesday.
Criticism against the Legislative Assembly and the government of El Salvador, headed by Nayib Bukele, as a result of the dismissal of Supreme Court justices and the attorney general continued on Tuesday, while it is expected that in the second plenary session of Congress, convened for Wednesday, more controversial decisions will be made.
The first reactions from social organizations and labor unions came on Saturday and Sunday with demonstrations in several points of the capital, San Salvador, after the unicameral parliament, elected in February, took the decision to dismiss the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and the Attorney General Raúl Melara, an action considered a blow to the system of separation of powers and harshly criticized by members of the international community.
In the midst of this situation, the president of the legislature, Ernesto Castro, called for this Wednesday a second plenary session in which, according to some publications of pro-government deputies on social media, the dismissal of the Human Rights attorney, Apolonio Tobar, and the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the Court of Accounts could be sought.
With all of them—as well as the magistrates and the attorney general—President Nayib Bukele had confrontations during the last year regarding the adoption of measures on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the military archives of the El Mozote massacre of 1981, rejected by Bukele, and the approval of more funds for governmental plans, such as the “territorial control” security plan.
The opposition party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN, from which the now president emerged), with a minority in the Legislative Assembly, pointed out that the dismissal of the magistrates is an “unprecedented blow to the democracy” of the country.”
“It represents one of the most serious attacks against the constitutional system and plunges the country into an alarming political and legal crisis that threatens more abuses, violations, excesses, impunity, and political persecution in El Salvador,” the FMLN said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned about what she considered an “alarming trend towards the concentration of powers” in El Salvador after Saturday’s events and added that the recent dismissals “seriously undermine democracy and the rule of law” by weakening the separation of powers, Bachelet said.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, called on Tuesday for “respect for the rule of law, judicial independence and the separation of powers” in El Salvador.
“We call for respect for the rule of law, judicial independence and the separation of powers, fundamental principles for Spain, but also for a friendly country like El Salvador,” said the minister, who follows “attentively” the events in the Central American country.
Finally, the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, considered that the government of Joe Biden must respond to the dismissals of judges and the Attorney General.
The U.S. chargé d’affaires and head of the diplomatic mission in El Salvador, Brendan O’Brien, did not heed President Nayib Bukele’s call to a meeting with other ambassadors in which he tried to justify Saturday’s dismissals.
Posicionamiento del FMLN, ante los acontecimientos del 1 de Mayo, promovidos por el mandatario Nayib Bukele y su grupo parlamentario.@gpfmln
Exponemos nuestra postura ante los salvadoreños y comunidad internacional. pic.twitter.com/9X2LY80nWL
— FMLN Oficial (@FMLNoficial) May 4, 2021
Position of the FMLN, before the events of May 1st, promoted by President Nayib Bukele and his parliamentary group.@gpfmln
We state our position before Salvadorans and the international community. pic.twitter.com/9X2LY80nWL
– FMLN Oficial (@FMLNoficial) May 4, 2021
“Just this weekend, we learned that the Salvadoran Parliament acted to undermine the nation’s highest court,” Vice President Harris said.
“An independent judiciary is critical to achieving a healthy democracy and a strong economy. On this front, on every front, we must respond.”
The U.S. Vice President’s pronouncement is the highest level made by the U.S. diplomacy in recent days, in which several international organizations, the European Union, the UN, have already spoken out to demand the ruling Assembly reverse its decision and return the separation of powers and democracy to the country.
President Bukele met on Tuesday with the diplomatic representatives of the UN, OAS, and the European Union to give his version on the dismissals of the Supreme Court judges and the Attorney General, yet the U.S. embassy did not participate.
Bukele showed his astonishment for the international condemnations that qualified it as a severe blow to democracy.
“There were condemnations about what happened on Saturday, and I find it very strange indeed, we did not expect at any time an international condemnation, and not because we were naive, but because there was nothing to condemn,” said the president.
In addition, he accused them of misinforming their countries and questioned whose side they are on. “Whose side are you on? Of the opposition, of the FMLN, which won only four deputies?” Bukele asked the diplomats.
For his part, the ambassador of the European Union in El Salvador and to SICA, Andreu Bassols, said that he has not met with the opposition but that it was “shocking” to see how the magistrates were dismissed without prior proceedings and without them being able to “say absolutely nothing.”