Human Rights Orgs Call on International Community to Monitor El Salvador Following Re-election of Nayib Bukele

Photo of author

By LatAm Reports Editor

Surveillance. International and national organizations working on the protection of human rights and the rule of law call on the international community to monitor the Salvadoran government following the re-election of Nayib Bukele, despite the constitutional prohibition.

The concern of the organizations is based on continuing reports of serious human rights violations during the Emergency Regime, as well as undermining democracy and critical attacks.

“Attacks on civil society, independent journalism, any critical voice, dissenting, will be on the rise and the international community should play a fundamental role in protecting these voices, these democratic leaderships and promoting that there are more so that it is not just what President Bukele wants what reigns in the country,” said Leonor Arteaga, director of the Program of the Process Foundation (DPLF).

There is only one script, a dominant voice that comes from the president and it will be his will and not the will of the people to govern El Salvador.
Leonor Arteaga, program director of the Foundation for Process.

He added that this international vigilance over Bukele’s action becomes important because “we will see more exile for political reasons, more use of the right against whom Bukele considers an enemy; and also self-censorship of communities, civil society, leaderships that no longer want to speak for fear of reprisals.” This context, according to Arteaga, makes it more indispensable for the international community to be attentive and “not to support the president’s authoritarian script.”

Tamara Taraciuk, programme director of the Inter-American Dialogue, also agrees with this monitoring that the international community must have on the action of the Salvadoran government on the protection of human rights and the rule of law.

“It is important that this electoral victory is not a blank cheque for Bukele to continue with the dismantling of democratic institutions it is essential that democratic governments be alert to what happens in the country and strongly condemn measures that could undermine institutionality or close civic space,” he acknowledges.

Taraciuk finds it “surprising that several governments recognized Bukele’s victory even before the official results, given the context of this election.” Also, he adds, “there should be a consensus to support the work of civil society and independent journalism, which are the only counterweights left in El Salvador.”

Nayib Bukele’s re-election raises serious concerns about the high ability to penetrate a speech that to enjoy certain rights others must be renounced.
Irene Cuéllar, Regional Researcher, Amnesty International’s Office for the Americas.

For Gabriela Santos, director of the UCA Institute for Human Rights (IDHUCA), the international community must understand that “El Salvador is not a reliable partner, it is a partner who changes the rules of the game.” He therefore believes that “the international community must be strong, especially in those countries that claim to respect democratic principles and the rule of law and human rights.”

Santos adds that El Salvador needs to “exist that coherence” and that “popecity is not a justification to allow everything; because then when something is wanted to be done it will be too late, as has happened in Nicaragua and Venezuela.”

A firmness of the global watchdogs about Bukele’s management is also Amnesty International’s commitment: “The role of international actors must be a more proactive and firm one to react early, forcefully and articulately to a management model that among its pillars will possibly have the annulment of all kinds of criticism or dissenting voice that questions its power or discovers its half truths,” says Irene Cuéllar, regional researcher at the Amnesty International Office for the Americas.

Cuéllar also believes that “the ultimate objective” of international organizations “should be to provide as many tools as possible to ensure the security and subsistence of organizations and journalists, who, in the face of a counterweightless scenario and the total absence of controls against power, represent the last resort to promote and protect human rights in the country.”

The Bukele model is the absolute concentration of power, opacity and widespread human rights violations.
Juanita Goebertus, Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch.

A dangerous model

Gabriela Santos considers that President Bukele’s apparent successful model “is very popular in our region, there are many states, candidates who want to imitate this model, especially in security”; but he believes that this is a vision that is based on a false premise: “pope popularity can do everything and it doesn’t matter if I change the rules of the game, it doesn’t matter if I concentrate power.” That, he says, is “unfortunate because we come from a story that has taught us what the repercussions of the concentration of power are.”

Cuéllar also sees a risk: “one of our main concerns lies in the continuity of the dissemination and high capacity for penetration of a discourse that presents false dilemmas to the population. This includes the idea that, in order to enjoy certain rights, others must be renounced.”

The electoral victory in the legislature gives Bukele the possibility to continue appointing allies in key institutions, which increases the risk to the closure of civic space.
Tamara Taraciuk, program director of Inter-American Dialogue.

For Taraciuk, of Inter-American Dialogue, that Bukele has won “despite the serious consequences for Salvadoran democracy of his first term” sends a message “very worrying” because “people are willing to give the vote to those who solve the problems they face, regardless of the undermining of the rule of law.”

Juanita Goebertus, director of the Americas at Human Rigths Watch, also sees in the “Bukele model” an “absolute concentration of power, opacity and widespread human rights violations. The challenge for democratic leaders in the region is to ensure security within the rule of law.”

If this mandate has already disrupted all institutions, disrespect for the rule of law and ended the separation of powers, what can it expect?
Gabriela Santos, director of the Uca Institute of Human Rights.

The questioning of the Bukele administration

Organizations are demanding to pay attention to the management of President Nayib Bukele, re-elected despite the constitutional ban.

Human Rights
The establishment of the Emergency Regime also believed that it should be monitored, as it had accumulated a number of complaints of serious human rights violations, including ill-treatment and torture of persons deprived of their liberty.

Impact on the region
They consider that the message sent by these elections to the region is serious: any president can remain in power in violation of the constitution, through a rigged decision of a co-opted court and will have no consequences.

Rule of law
The organizations agree that during the first term, President Nayib Bukele dismantled the brakes and counterweights that are necessary in any democracy, such as the dismissal of the Attorney General and the judges of the Constitutional Chamber.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa Grafica