Social Issues

Salvadorans protest against re-election and arbitrary arrests under state of emergency

San Salvador, Sept 15 (EFE).- Some 3,000 people protested in El Salvador’s capital on Friday against President Nayib Bukele’s intention to seek re-election in 2024 and against “arbitrary detentions” carried out under the state of emergency in force since March 2022.

Demonstrators marched through the main streets of San Salvador and ended with a rally in the historic center of the Salvadoran capital, with messages such as “Re-election is unconstitutional”, “Freedom for the innocent” and “No more corruption”.

Trade unionists, doctors, lawyers and relatives of the disappeared and imprisoned joined the protest, carrying banners, placards and T-shirts with messages against the Salvadoran president’s government.

Politicians and three opposition presidential candidates were also present: Luis Parada of the Our Time party, Joel Sanchez of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) and Manuel Flores of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

The relatives of those detained under the state of emergency, which has led to more than 72,000 detentions without trial of people the government accuses of belonging to gangs, shouted slogans throughout the march such as “Alive they took them away, alive we want them back”, a historic slogan used to denounce state-sponsored disappearances throughout Latin America.

People from different parts of the country also took part in the protest, including representatives from the lower Lempa river, an area of rural towns whose inhabitants have filed 130 habeas corpus petitions with the Supreme Court and 66 cases of alleged arbitrary detentions with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

José Salvador Ruíz, of the Grassroots Ecclesiastical Communities of the Lower Lempa, told EFE that he came to the march because public policies “continue to deteriorate the lives of the Salvadoran people” and “to speak out for the victims of the state of emergency”.

“We exposed the arbitrariness of the state of emergency and the wickedness of the treatment of the poorest sectors of the population,” he said.

Regarding Nayib Bukele’s intention to seek re-election, he said that “the constitution says that a president cannot stay even one day after the end of his mandate”.

Although there are at least six articles in the Salvadoran constitution that prohibit the immediate re-election of the president, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice issued a decision allowing an immediate re-election after Bukele expelled five judges in May 2021 and replaced them with his own allies.

Friday’s protest took place at the same time as an official parade of soldiers, police and students to mark the 202nd anniversary of the independence of Central America from Spain. EFE

hs/ics/mcd (photo) (video)

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