Display of military force in the Legislative Assembly in El Salvador marks a setback for democracy in that country


Amy Shannon: [email protected]
Yancy Nuñez: [email protected]

San Salvador, February 10, 2020 —  On February 9, heavily armed military and police forces entered the Legislative Palace in San Salvador, something the country has not seen since the Peace Agreements were signed in 1992.  The display of military force was ordered by President Bukele after days of tension with the legislative body, and was aimed at forcing a vote on a loan for $109 million dollars for his national security plan. Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of Alianza Americas, made the following statement regarding this unprecedented act:


“The decision of Salvadoran President, Nayib Bukele to deploy military forces and riot police to facilitate his access to the Legislative Assembly marks a dangerous and regrettable step backward for the rule of law, and risks undermining democratic systems in El Salvador.  It is sad that a democratically elected president is taking up political practices more commonly associated with authoritarian governments and dictatorships. 


Given the history of conflict that marked the history of El Salvador since the end of the 1970s and continued through the end of the civil war in 1992, this action marks an especially serious threat to a healthy democratic process. Without exception, a President should never use the armed forces and public security bodies to impose his will on the legislature. This kind of action would be inappropriate  in any part of the world, independent of the ideological orientation of the president.  


One of the potential consequences of the actions taken by President Bukele over the past few days could be a rupture of the climate of hope that had inspired many people in El Salvador since he won the presidency just over a year ago.  This sense of hope has contributed to reducing the number of Salvadorans who have turned to migration as a means of escaping the conditions of economic, social, and political insecurity that continue to define daily life in El Salvador. 


El Salvador must return to a more civil path toward managing the differences across the branches of government. As a network of organizations led by migrants in the United States, with lived experiences of forced migration due to insecurity and political instability, we urge the Bukele administration, civil society, and all other sectors who care about rule of law and the well-being of the country to seek solutions through dialogue.  We all must work toward building a country from which fewer people will have to flee to find well-being and prosperity.” 


Alianza Americas is a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 100,000 families across the United States. It is the only US-based organization rooted in Latino and Caribbean immigrant communities that works transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way of life. Learn more at alianzaamericas.org.

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