Thousands of people marched from the Cuscatlán Park, and other meeting points in San Salvador, toward Morazán Plaza in the historic city center, to protest against the Bukele government and the recent laws approved by the Legislative Assembly controlled by his party, like the Bitcoin Law and a law that purges 30 percent of the judges in the country.
Marta Martínez and her son Josué showed up at the meeting point at Cuscatlán Park to march against the “dictatorship” imposed by President Bukele. “It can’t be possible that he has the go-ahead for reelection. This is something that has never been seen before. Instead of bringing new ideas, this president brought bad ideas,” she said in reference to the president's possible reelection enabled by the Nuevas Ideas-appointed Constitutional Court.
Hooded individuals, accused by other protesters of being infiltrators sent by the government, burned a motorcycle near the Tutunichapa community. The rest of the organized groups distanced themselves from the act during the walk to Morazán Plaza and barred the group of about 30 men, whose faces were covered and carried bats from joining them.
Feminist organizations that marched called for transparency in the case of the mass grave at Chalchuapa, where dozens of victims were found at a former police officer’s house earlier this year. The case has become emblematic of the country’s ongoing security problems — and the high rates of gender violence — that the government has minimized by pointing to its security plan. They carried an enormous black banner with white letters where only the name of the municipality where this emblematic case occurred in May 2021.
“Bitcoin is a law that benefits only wealthy businesspeople,” said Jorge Magaña (in the red handkerchief) in the minutes before the march on Roosevelt Alameda in front of Cuscatlán Park.
One of the slogans that circulated on social media to convene the march was “We're looking for 20,000 people who want to build peace,” in reference to the government campaign that seeks to recruit 20,000 youth to double the Armed Forces of El Salvador. In this image, one of these posters was torn by one of the hooded protesters.
Juan Soledad carried a cross that said: “Human rights were born in 1992 and they were killed in 2021.” The first year referred to the Peace Accords that ended the 12-year-armed conflict in El Salvador.
During the protest, there was a mix of different sectors of Salvadoran society. Some feminist organizations arrived in coordinated fashion, while other spontaneous groups of families and friends displayed outfits thought up for the occasion, in smaller coordination efforts.
After walking from Cuscatlán Park, groups of war veterans and labor rights activists stationed themselves at Plaza Morazán and shouted slogans against the Bitcoin Law and the Constitutional Chamber's ruling permitting immediate presidential reelection.
Alexánder Velázquez has lived in Dallas, Texas for 20 years and traveled to be able to go out and protest: “A big part of the diaspora is blind. They don’t see the reality of the country. Unfortunately it’s because many don’t come, but I tell them: ‘There's no train or airport in the east. Security is poor. You can only be where they know you, but if you go to other places, you're at risk,’” he said.
A small group of protesters tried to destroy the Bitcoin ATM booth in Plaza Gerardo Barrios. They did it with little help and encouraged by a small group of people around them. The rest were curious people and journalists who tried to get the best shot of the action.
El cajero Chivo de la céntrica plaza Gerardo Barrios, frente a Catedral, fue incendidado por unos pocos manifestantes de la multitudinaria marcha del 15 de septiembre en contra del Gobierno y del bitcoin. Foto de El Faro: Carlos Barrera.
*Translated by Anna-Catherine Brigida