In its debut as the new Legislative Assembly, 64 of Nayib Bukele’s officials voted as their first task to abolish the rule of law checks and balances system. The dismissal of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice not only constitutes a coup d’état against the judiciary, but it also consolidates Bukele’s dictatorial vocation to rule with absolute power and without any entity to control it; the dismissal of the attorney general sets the roadmap for political persecution in the country.
The Constitutional Chamber is the highest court of justice in the country, responsible for interpreting the Salvadoran Constitution and for stopping, when it happens – which has worsened and has become a custom since June 2019 – abuses of power and violations. of the rights established by the magna charter. It is therefore no coincidence that the first task of the new Assembly was to pave the way for the arbitrariness of the Presidential Chamber.
The Attorney General of the Republic, in accordance with the dying Salvadoran Constitution, is responsible for the criminal case. In the new regime installed, with employees who will act as puppets, the new role of the prosecutor will be even more decisive for the establishment than the new Constitutional Chamber, the new Court of Auditors or the new Prosecutor’s Office for the defense of rights. of man. . If the silence of the Supreme Court will serve as a paperweight for legal aberrations, the captures and criminal proceedings dictated by the prosecutor of Bukele will be the tourniquet which will seek to ensure obedience. See, listen and be quiet.
Unfortunately, this is not a surprise. February 9, 2020 was a declaration of intent. On this occasion, accompanied by military and police automatons, Bukele seized the power of the Legislative Assembly because he wanted absolute power. May 1, 2021 marks the beginning of the consolidation of this strategy, which has only been possible thanks to decades of corruption, tons of ignorance, millions of propaganda, the consent of many rich and the cowardly silences of some. diplomatic representations – like this one. of Ambassador Johnson or Ambassador to the European Union – or of the lukewarmness, cowardice and delay in the rejection of what happened by Luis Almagro’s OAS. The Supreme Court and the Office of the Attorney General will be accompanied by the Court of Accounts, the Human Rights Defense Prosecutor of El Salvador (PDDH) and any institution, however small, that represents an obstacle. thirst for power.
The blow to the country’s institutionality has not gone unnoticed by the main international actors who make decisions that directly affect the lives of the Salvadoran population. The Acting Under Secretary of the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the United States Department of State, Secretary of State for Administration Biden, members of Congress and senators have openly expressed their rejection of what is happening. had passed. With a nod to China, the Bukele administration is encouraged by an imbalanced offer that could have serious repercussions for El Salvador, especially on migration issues.
May 1 will be remembered as the day 64 puppets, representing thousands of people, empowered one person. For one person. Instead of rebuilding the republic – as they repeated following the scenario – they melted it down. Three powers will become one. No country where power has been concentrated on one person has ended well. Nothing. The inexperience, youth, ignorance and fanaticism of the new Assembly must not be an excuse for a senseless concession.
The resolutions that ousted the officials lacked legality, but that will remain an anecdote. The government, which has understood that lying and stealing has no consequences, will not care about the resolution of the Constitutional Chamber which declared the dismissal of its magistrates unconstitutional. It also has a lot to do with the fact that the exercise of power is understood by the Bukele clan as a combination of propaganda and brute force. It is what remains when reason fails. What we saw on February 9 with columns of soldiers wielding guns; we saw it on the night of March 1 when the police took control of the Supreme Court so that later, once the vote is over, the legal secretary of the presidency accompanies the false magistrates by hand; and we also saw it when the director of police, after having ordered the entry of his subordinates to the office of the attorney general, accompanied the new attorney general towards what will be his job.
Bukele, who can no longer be called president, has pointed out his true face, which will be difficult to disguise with the childishness of Twitter or the millions paid to lobbyists in Washington. Although it may seem gloomy, the night of May 1 should be enough motivation for society to step out of its comfort zone. It will not be easy because this government is in charge of implanting the fear of dissent: the digital lynching of opinion, the daily disinformation machinery or even the party police and the armed forces will make everything more complicated, but never impossible. The stake, what we pack as democracy, should be enough to let outrage escape social media and hit the streets.
We do not have to wait for a boot on the neck or indifference to a serious violation of rights to react. Even those who clap without thinking sooner or later will notice the pattern.
Journalism will not be spared from these attacks; in fact, they will become more acute. Of the party in power, the intention will be to appease any critical voice. The answer must be further investigation, requiring – not demand – answers on the use of public funds, revealing what they intend to keep hidden. Journalism cannot be subservient to a dictatorship; it must be irreverent, a characteristic that it shares with civil society. For this reason, and in the absence of institutions exercising political control, it is up to citizens not to be silent. Fear cannot and should not be an excuse to justify the right to say no. Silence is an unworthy complicity.
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