Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele increases his grip on the country



Mexico

From our correspondent

Cap upside down, baseball jacket and smartphone in hand, Nayib Bukele, the Salvadoran president, not yet in his forties, has made connected communication his favorite sport. With success: on the evening of the legislative elections of Sunday, February 28, his “New Ideas” party, founded in 2018, should win an absolute majority in Parliament, with 56 of the 84 seats, according to initial estimates. The two forces of right and left having occupied in turn the National Palace since the end of the civil war in 1992 are swept aside.

Elected in February 2019, Nayib Bukele thus asserts his power on the Parliament of this small piece of Central America of 6.5 million inhabitants plagued by violence and corruption. MEPs will soon elect a prosecutor general, a human rights ombudsperson and Supreme Court judges. “The counterweights will almost disappear. We are at the gates of political absolutism ”, fears Eduardo Cruz (1), 32 years old, associative activist in the world of culture.

The president prides himself on breaking with his predecessors, projecting an image of steadfastness against crime and corruption, but the similarities are troubling. Celia Medrano, former director of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador, talks about a “Autocratic and authoritarian government. He gave more power to the armed forces ”. On Sunday, he also gave a surprise press conference in the middle of polling day, which is prohibited by the Electoral Tribunal. “He constantly infringes the constitutional field”, adds Celia Medrano.

The head of state had already marked the spirits in February 2020: while elected officials refused him a loan intended for security, the army had burst in to intimidate the deputies, Nayib Bukele taking his place in the seat of the president of the ‘Assembly. Coming from a leftist party born of the guerrillas of the Civil War (1979-1992), the young head of state has turned to the right, to the point of sympathizing with Donald Trump. “The pandemic has also been an excuse to deploy the police and control the expression networks. We thought we were done with censorship ”, regrets Eduardo Cruz.

The press is also said to be threatened, like the very serious site El Faro, which had revealed that the decrease in violence was not due to its plan of territorial control, but to negotiations between the authorities and the authorities. maras. For Celia Medrano, “There are serious investigations which show that the maras do not only influence state structures, but that these bands already occupy key positions”. In February, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights granted protection to 34 employees ofEl Faro Due to “The serious and urgent situation of the risk of irreparable infringement of their rights”, after invective from the president.

For Celia Medrano, who will run for the General Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in May, to the chagrin of Nayib Bukele, “The president will now accumulate a power rarely achieved. He has the executive power, he has just won the legislature, the next in line of sight is the judiciary since he will be able to appoint the magistrates of the Supreme Court ”.

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