On the afternoon of Sunday 9 February, President Nayib Bukele entered the Legislative Assembly Hall of El Salvador escorted by armed military officers and members of the Civil National Police. He alleged that he was attending a special meeting of the Legislative Assembly which, under his mandate, the Council of Ministers had convened for that day. The “special reason”, of supposed national interest, was to get a loan of US $ 109 million for a territorial control plan in El Salvador. The contents of such a plan are not publicly known and “were not drafted through consultation processes with the different sectors of the population”, noted Salvadoran feminist movements on 10 February.
After a speech to his supporters gathered outside the Legislative Assembly, the president entered the building to pray for a few minutes. He then came back outside and said that he had decided not to take over the Legislative Assembly because God had “spoken” to him and told him to be patient, that it was not necessary to expel the deputies now because the people would do it in the next elections, which will take place in February 2021.
SOCIAL REJECTION OF BUKELE’S BRUTALITY AND BULLYING
It wasn’t long before social mobilizations and public rejections of his actions of militarizing Parliament and threatening the people appeared. “The president’s behavior is totally unacceptable,” stressed CESTA-Friends of the Earth El Salvador.
In a statement (attached), the environmental organization considers that there were no reasons to “convene the Legislative Assembly, since the concept of “special reason” established by the Constitution applies only in cases of extreme emergency, such as a war or national catastrophe, but never to justify a loan to the government.”
“The president has no right to enter into the Legislative Assembly hall with the army” to threaten deputies, said CESTA. Bukele effectively “called people for an insurrection”, looking for followers of his there present to carry out violent actions to remove the deputies from their positions, added CESTA in their statement.
On Monday there were demonstrations rejecting Bukele’s actions, including a protest by Salvadoran feminist movements “against authoritarianism and militarism” in El Salvador del Mundo square.
CESTA considers the President clearly unqualified for his position. “For this reason we ask the national and international community to repudiate the actions of President Nayib Bukele.”
The Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change (MOVIAC) also repudiated the use of violence by the armed forces and the use of religious symbolism “to manipulate the people for political and electoral gains”. They compared this situation with the coup d’Etat in Bolivia against Evo Morales’ administration and the coup attempts in Venezuela “which follow the interventionist policy of the US government.”
MOVIAC demands an end to Bukele’s arrogant and thuggish actions, along with a thorough investigation into the use of Armed Forces to exert pressure on the Legislative Assembly.
On Monday afternoon, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice issued an resolution on the Council of Minister’s call for a special plenary session on February 9, which was read at the Legislative Assembly. This resolution was accepted by the deputies and Bukele.
The resolution established precautionary measures, such as that the President does not use military officers for purposes other than those already established for the Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, the deputies issued a statement rejecting and repudiating the events of 9 February: “The Deputies repudiate the constant insults and threats received, as well as the persecution experienced, and request Congresses around the world to express their solidarity in defense of democracy and the Rule of Law in El Salvador,” announced the Legislative Assembly on its Twitter account. They also recommended that the President stop threatening and using force to dismantle the Salvadoran Parliament.