In the sights of the international community after dismissing five Supreme Court justices, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (5) reformed a tax reduction law that benefited newspapers – many of which criticized President Nayib Bukele.
MP Christian Guevara proposed amending the old printing law, which “for more than 70 years prevented newspapers from paying taxes,” he said.
“Today we are going to put an end to the longest, most continuous and blatant tax evasion in our history,” said the government deputy, whose alliance holds 61 of the 84 seats in the Assembly. The change was approved by 68 votes.
According to the 1950 law, newspapers, magazines and books relating to the “free dissemination of thought” could import paper and ink without paying taxes. The daily sale of newspapers in the street was also exempt from taxes.
Now, the new rule establishes that newspaper companies “will not benefit from a tariff exemption on imports of raw materials, machinery and equipment for printing or publications which are not directly intended for educational purposes.” .
“They will not have a deduction for income tax or income from this source,” he adds.
After taking office on Saturday 1, the country’s new Legislative Assembly, which has a ruling majority, dismissed five magistrates who had taken recent decisions unpleasant to the president.
In addition to them, the Attorney General was also removed from his post. The measure has been the subject of criticism from the United States and international bodies and reinforces fears that Bukele, elected in 2019 with a right-wing populist discourse, is promoting an escalation of authoritarianism in the country.
On Tuesday (4), the Salvadoran government released, without authorization, the recording of a meeting between Bukele and diplomats in the country, whom the president criticized for international condemnations.
Bukele explained that the dismissals of judges comply with the law and enjoy popular support.
European Union Ambassador Andreu Bassols said Congress measures “undermine the rule of law and the separation of powers in El Salvador”.
On Tuesday, the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, said her country “must respond” to the resignation of Salvadoran magistrates and that the independence of the judiciary is “fundamental” to the health of a democracy.