Frontal shock: the keys to understanding the confrontation between powers in El Salvador


El Salvador faces a political crisis. The tensions between two constitutional branches, the executive and the legislative, were marked by the taking of the country’s Assembly by the military and the police loyal to President Nayib Bukele, who demanded that the parliamentarians approve a loan to face violence in the country.


Bukele has led the Caribbean nation for less than a year. Its action plan is aimed at ending the long-standing violence that drowns El Salvador.
The victory of the candidate of the Great Alliance for National Unity (WINS) It was bitter news for the two main parties, the Republican Nationalist Alliance (Arena) – from the right – and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) – from the left. But Bukele’s triumph was something natural.
The result of the elections manifested the tiredness of the voters, exhausted from living in a nation consumed by violence. To this day, Salvadorans are convinced that things can change. The majority can no longer endure the deplorable situation that the country is going through. In order to meet the demands of the population, the Presidency developed a strategy to combat crime that became known as Territorial Control Plan.

The project proposes to borrow $ 109 million from the Central American Bank for Economic Investment (CABEI). With the money it is expected to finance citizen security institutions such as the Armed Forces and the National Civil Police of El Salvador. The financing conditions assume a term of 20 years and include a grace period of 3 years, and also an indicative annual interest rate of 4.66%.

It is expected that in this way the Government will better address violence in the country.

How did the current political crisis begin?

The beginning of tensions goes back to February 6. Bukele demanded that the National Assembly hold a session on February 9 to authorize the negotiation of the loan that would finance the third phase of the security plan. The leader of the country referred to article 167 of the country’s Magna Carta, which stipulates the possibility of convening extraordinary sessions of Parliament.
The Legislature approved a report in which it declared inadmissible the call to treat the credit. The National Assembly crossed out the ultimatum of the president in violation of the separation of powers from the State. Bukele’s response was swift: he referred to another article of the Constitution, 87, which assumes that the people have the right to insurrection to restore constitutional order.

Obviously, the Armed Forces and the National Civil Police sided with the president because they would benefit from the security plan offered by the Executive.

The Salvadoran Defense Minister, René Merino, wanted to make it clear on February 8 that the Army is “apolitical”, but at the same time in a press conference he called on the military to “obey the president of the Republic and general commander of the Armed Force on all occasions and risks even at the cost of our lives. ”

On February 9, only 28 of the 84 parliamentarians attended the extraordinary session. They did not reach the minimum quorum of 43 deputies. Later, Bukele entered the Blue Room of the Legislative Assembly accompanied by the troops of the Armed Forces and the Police. The entry of the military into Parliament is an unprecedented event in the contemporary history of El Salvador.
The president of the country sat in the chair of the president of the Parliament, opened the extraordinary session and prayed briefly. Later, he got up and addressed a crowd of supporters whom he had summoned at the doors of the Assembly to support him in pressuring the Legislative. Opposition deputies crossed out the “self-coup” situation.
Bukele warned that he would call his followers back to Parliament’s headquarters if the deputies do not approve the CABEI loan within a week. The statements and actions of the Salvadoran president caused concern in some international organizations and in a part of the population of the Central American country.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador banned Bukele on February 10 from calling the Parliament, through the Council of Ministers, to approve the negotiation of the loan.

Where is the controversy?

“The crisis is caused by the very little responsible actions on the part of the president of the Republic to want, through coercion, to be able to force the deputies and deputies of the Legislative Assembly to make decisions in favor of what he says,” he told Sputnik Jorge Schafik Handal, member of FMLN and deputy for the Usulután department for the Legislative Assembly.

According to the interviewee, the president and the government want the crisis to lead to the ideal conditions for a self-coup in the style of what Alberto Fujimori did in 1992 in Peru. The autogolpe of that year ended badly.
The opposition complains that the arguments on which the credit application is based on CABEI They can’t stand it and there’s no information about it. For the deputy, the plan must describe in more detail the objectives, deadlines and results that are sought when requested.
In addition, he added, according to the information available to some members of the opposition, there are certain things that cause controversy. And, according to the opposition, the only company – SeguriTech Integral Security Group – that has tendered to take over the contract for the installation of 4,000 video surveillance cameras – the process that is part of the Territorial Control security plan – valued at more than 25 million dollars is the one that paid for the trip from El Salvador to Mexico to two government officials, Schafik said.

“That company already has a reputation that all the bids it earns earn by giving kickbacks to pay favors. Another thing that raises suspicion is that this trip, which was several months ago, although it was present in the public arena, the The question is why those two officials went to Mexico in a private jet. The president has never wanted to give information on why they went, “he explained.
There is no controversy in the Presidency proposal, the WIN party Assembly member Numan Salgado said in a comment to Sputnik. According to the official parliamentarian, there is a technical approach to what needs to be financed for the third part of the Territorial Control Plan. These are resources to equip the Armed Forces and the National Civil Police and strengthen national security.
“The controversy is generated by the two parliamentary groups contrary to the line of the Government of the Republic, which are FMLN Y Sand. Basically this is a political chess game in which the opposition, on the part of these two groups, obeys more to a political party agenda than to the interests of the nation, “he said.

The controversy is based on the partisan interests of both formations, he says. “They want to make the Government understand that they have control,” he added.

Is it possible to solve the crisis?

Salgado recalled that there was an agreement drawn up by A commission that it had to be in charge of issuing an opinion so that the Territorial Control Plan reached the legislative plenary and voted in favor. The signatures of all parliamentary groups were stamped there. However, “suddenly” they decided to withdraw this opinion so that the vote was not held despite having the signatures of all parliamentary groups, including those of the opposition, said the member of GANA.

“It is a situation of revanchism or power because recently he asked for the lawlessness of a deputy with a lot of influence within the Arena party. This has been the reason why they may have changed their minds. There is no logical explanation to say why He takes an opinion out of discussion and approval that had everyone’s support, “he said.

The current crisis can be resolved if FMLN and Arena end up being understood, since they are not asking for resources that will be diverted – situations that have occurred in the past – nor resources for third parties or to finance other situations that have nothing to do with a specific issue such as security, he said.

“Given this fear that could be raised, and that was a reality during the previous governments, there is the clarity of the destiny of the economic resources that are being requested. I think that, as it were, it is a purely political situation,” Salgado concluded.

Schafik, meanwhile, is convinced that the current crisis can be solved with dialogue, with timely information and with transparency on the part of the Government to the requirements of the information that the Assembly is asking for, he said, “and not wanting to come to impose that it be legislated or solved in a certain direction, with a certain accent. That is not possible and that is not correct “added the opposition deputy.

The exit may well go through “honesty and promptness in giving the reports” to, thus, approve them in the first phase of the loan, which is to give the green light to the negotiations. The second part will be to approve the loan, emphasized the FMLN party member.


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