Anti-government protests rock El Salvador as president nears half term

San Salvador, Oct 17 (EFE).- Thousands of people returned to the streets of the capital El Salvador Sunday to protest against the policies of the country’s popular President Nayib Bukele ahead of the halfway mark of his five-year term in December.

Trade unionists, judges, human rights activists, ex-guerrillas, war veterans, opponents, feminists, and members of the LGTBQ+ community gathered to march to Gerardo Barrios Square in the heart of San Salvador.

Some 4,000 protesters rallied against a lack of transparency, the number of missing and femicides, the adoption of bitcoin as a legal tender with state funds, and what they consider to be an “authoritarian” drift.

They also criticized the government’s pension reform and the blocking of military files on criminal proceedings for war crimes.

Sunday’s protest was the second largest of the three demonstrations against the president since Sep.15.

Organizers called the protests via social media, mainly Twitter, the president’s preferred social media platform, which he sometimes uses to issue orders and provide official information.

“The truth is that this government has made us many promises that it has not fulfilled. But, specifically, I am marching because of the lack of transparency that exists in this period,” Karla Ayala, who said she has participated in all three protests, told EFE.

“We were promised that this would be the most transparent government in history and it has been completely the opposite,” she added.

Both the Salvadoran president, several government officials, and ruling party lawmakers tried to downplay the importance of the demonstration in a series of tweets.

“The march is a failure and they know it. Now, the only option left for them is to post photos from below, with close shots and try to surprise the international community,” Bukele wrote.

The protests take place despite the popularity that the president enjoys.

The Center for Citizen Studies at Francisco Gavidia University said Bukele reached the second year of his term with a rating of 8.7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Another point of criticism in the protests was the dismissal of sexagenarian judges through legal reform, a constitutional reform process, and consecutive presidential reelection, recently authorized by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

President Bukele has not publicly stated whether he will seek reelection in 2024 when his term ends. EFE


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