El Salvador enters political crisis under US’ critical eye

San Salvador, May 2 (EFE).- El Salvador is entering a political crisis after forming two Constitutional chambers in the Supreme Court of Justice after congress voted to replace several magistrates, in a measure the United States strongly criticized.

The Legislative Assembly, which took office Saturday with a large ruling majority, voted to dismiss five sitting judges, who in turn declared the legislative measure — supported by President Nayib Bukele — unconstitutional.

The government and Legislative Assembly recognized five lawyers voted and sworn in as the new judges, but the Constitutional Chamber said in the ruling that these decisions violate the constitution.

US State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Bukele about his “deep concern” over the decision to remove the judges and Salvadoran Attorney-General Raul Melara from their positions.

“An independent judiciary is essential for democratic governance,” he said, adding that Melara is “fighting corruption and impunity” and “is an effective partner” to fight crime “both in the United States and in El Salvador.”

Blinken said it was “the commitment of the United States to improve conditions in El Salvador” by strengthening democratic institutions, separating powers and defending a free press.

Relations between El Salvador and the United States have been strained since former President Donald Trump, whom Bukele considered “unique and cool,” left office.

Bukele did not meet Biden’s special envoy Ricardo Zúñiga in a visit early April and in which he asked to meet with the Salvadoran head of state.

Relations between El Salvador and the US, in addition to geographic proximity, are marked by economic exchanges and the interests of almost 3 million Salvadorans who live in the country and in 2020 sent more than $5 billion in remittances.

Mauricio Méndez, representative of the Exporters Corporation of El Salvador, told EFE he feared the Salvadoran political context would affect trade relations between the countries.

“This type of political instability generates a lot of uncertainty in the export sector” and in investors,” he said, adding that with this “political movement it would seem that the rules are going to change overnight and that is not good for the economy of the country.”

He did not rule out that if trade with the United States falls, China will seek to replace that activity.

“Because of the actions seen by the government, they are aimed at that: if I distance myself from the United States, which is my main commercial partner, I have a market in China,” he said. EFE


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