News Release

Coup in El Salvador?

ALEXIS STOUMBELIS, alexis@cispes.org@CISPES
Stoumbelis is with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. They recently released a statement condemning the decision of a group of political parties which “upon taking office on May 1, and with the backing of President Nayib Bukele, voted to unconstitutionally remove the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, in what is being denounced in El Salvador as a coup d’etat.” The group is holding a demonstration and press conference on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in front of the Salvadoran Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The group continued: “While it is true that Supreme Court magistrates have historically represented oligarchic interests and that the new Legislative Assembly was democratically elected — though the process was plagued by violations to the electoral code on part of the president and his New Ideas party — this does not justify an assault on democratic institutions. The legislators’ actions set a dangerous precedent that deteriorates the democratic advances made in El Salvador since the signing of the Peace Accords.

“The decision to remove and replace the five magistrates did not adhere to the constitutionally-established justifications for doing so, nor were the magistrates granted a hearing and defense, as is their right under the law. Clearly, the basis for this decision is to eliminate any institutional opposition and guarantee the president’s authority over other branches of government. This explains why legislators also removed the Attorney General, Raúl Melara and next may remove the Human Rights Ombudsman, José Apolonio Tobar Serrano, who, during the pandemic, denounced widespread violations of human rights and corruption among many members of the Bukele administration. …

Condescending lectures from the Biden administration will not impede the continuation of these assaults on democracy; President Bukele and his party are very clear on the type of dictatorship they wish to establish in El Salvador. If the United States government does not immediately act to restrict police, military, and other funds that strengthen the regime, there is no doubt that the United States, too, will be responsible for what follows.”