{"code":"25694","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"763","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202109\/el_salvador\/25694","link_edit":"","name":"Ruling on Bukele Reelection Prompts US Comparisons to Venezuela","slug":"ruling-on-bukele-reelection-prompts-us-comparisons-to-venezuela","info":"The magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador\u2019s Supreme Court \u2014 Bukele loyalists installed as part of a legislative coup on May 1 \u2014 have issued a ruling authorizing the consecutive reelection of the president. On Saturday, the top U.S. representative to the country delivered a harsh condemnation of the regime, accusing Bukele of undermining judicial independence and democracy.","mtag":"Corruption","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/jgavarrete'\u003E Julia Gavarrete\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/rlazo'\u003E Roxana Lazo\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/vguzman'\u003E Valeria Guzm\u00e1n\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/gcaceres'\u003E Gabriela C\u00e1ceres\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/dlizarraga'\u003E Daniel Liz\u00e1rraga\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/cmartinez'\u003E Carlos Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/cdada'\u003E Carlos Dada\u003C\/span\u003E y \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/omartinez'\u003E \u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"julia-gavarrete":{"sort":"jgavarrete","slug":"julia-gavarrete","path":"julia_gavarrete","name":"Julia Gavarrete","edge":"0","init":"0"},"roxana-lazo":{"sort":"rlazo","slug":"roxana-lazo","path":"roxana_lazo","name":"Roxana Lazo","edge":"0","init":"1"},"valeria-guzman":{"sort":"vguzman","slug":"valeria-guzman","path":"valeria_guzman","name":"Valeria Guzm\u00e1n","edge":"0","init":"1"},"gabriela-caceres":{"sort":"gcaceres","slug":"gabriela-caceres","path":"gabriela_caceres","name":"Gabriela C\u00e1ceres","edge":"0","init":"1"},"daniel-lizarraga":{"sort":"dlizarraga","slug":"daniel-lizarraga","path":"daniel_lizarraga","name":"Daniel Liz\u00e1rraga","edge":"0","init":"1"},"carlos-martinez":{"sort":"cmartinez","slug":"carlos-martinez","path":"carlos_martinez","name":"Carlos Mart\u00ednez","edge":"0","init":"1"},"carlos-dada":{"sort":"cdada","slug":"carlos-dada","path":"carlos_dada","name":"Carlos Dada","edge":"0","init":"1"},"oscar-martinez":{"sort":"omartinez","slug":"oscar-martinez","path":"oscar_martinez","name":"\u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez","edge":"1","init":"0"}}},"view":"763","pict":{"cms-image-000036270-jpeg":{"feat":"1","sort":"36270","name":"cms-image-000036270.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036270.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036270.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036270-jpeg","text":"<p>President Nayib Bukele, at the request of the president of the Legislative Assembly, rings the gong to begin an \u201cextraordinary plenary session on accountability\u201d in June 2021, during his second year in office. Photo by V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EPresident Nayib Bukele, at the request of the president of the Legislative Assembly, rings the gong to begin an \u201cextraordinary plenary session on accountability\u201d in June 2021, during his second year in office. Photo by V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036271-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36271","name":"cms-image-000036271.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036271.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036271.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036271-jpeg","text":"<p>The charg\u00e9e d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador speaks at a press conference on the night of September 4, 2021. Photo: U.S. Embassy<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EThe charg\u00e9e d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador speaks at a press conference on the night of September 4, 2021. Photo: U.S. Embassy\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036272-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36272","name":"cms-image-000036272.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036272.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036272.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036272-jpeg","text":"<p>President Nayib Bukele gives a speech at the entrance to the Legislative Assembly, prior to the military occupation of the Assembly on February 9, 2020. Photo for El Faro: Carlos Barrera<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EPresident Nayib Bukele gives a speech at the entrance to the Legislative Assembly, prior to the military occupation of the Assembly on February 9, 2020. Photo for El Faro: Carlos Barrera\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":36270,"date":{"live":"2021\/09\/05"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2021","data_post_dateLive_MM":"09","data_post_dateLive_DD":"05","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202109\/el_salvador\/25693\/Sala-de-lo-Constitucional-avala-reelecci%C3%B3n-de-Bukele-y-Estados-Unidos-lo-compara-con-Hugo-Ch%C3%A1vez.htm\" target=\"_blank\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMagistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador\u2019s Supreme Court of Justice, installed by President Nayib Bukele on May 1, ruled last Friday, September 3, to permit consecutive presidential reelections, thus authorizing Bukele\u2019s run for a second term in 2024.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn their resolution, the magistrates argued that it should be up to \u201cthe people\u201d to decide if a president should rule for consecutive terms, or should be replaced by another candidate. Now, Bukele\u2019s only requirement for reelection is that he resign from office five months prior to election day.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn their ruling, the Constitutional Chamber argued that the prohibition against sequential presidential reelection was established in response to the needs of \u201c20, 30, 40 years ago,\u201d and is no longer necessary. In light of changing times, the court concluded, term limits represent an \u201cexcessive restriction disguised as judicial certainty and the actions of representatives who resist changes to sovereign rule, and who resist listening to the will of the people.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe magistrates who issued this historic ruling \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202105\/el_salvador\/25452\/Bukele\"\u003Ewere appointed on May 1\u003C\/a\u003E by President Bukele\u2019s ruling-party majority in the Legislative Assembly, which dismissed the court\u2019s legitimate magistrates and installed their replacements in direct violation of the proper selection process established by law. President Bukele took responsibility for that decision during a subsequent meeting with the diplomatic corps, which his administration broadcast on national TV.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Constitutional Chamber released the 27-page resolution last Friday evening, September 3, on social media. The magistrates have yet to provide the public with their opinions on a ruling that many see as marking a before-and-after moment for El Salvador. This is the first major resolution issued by the new high-level Bukele loyalists who control the judiciary, and its express aim is to facilitate the continuation of the Bukele regime.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36272\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"President Nayib Bukele gives a speech at the entrance to the Legislative Assembly, prior to the military occupation of the Assembly on February 9, 2020. Photo for El Faro: Carlos Barrera\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EPresident Nayib Bukele gives a speech at the entrance to the Legislative Assembly, prior to the military occupation of the Assembly on February 9, 2020. Photo for El Faro: Carlos Barrera\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Saturday, September 4, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced that it accepts and will abide by the new ruling. In a brief, three-paragraph communiqu\u00e9, the tribunal emphasized that, if the current president so wishes, he will be allowed to run again.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA few minutes after the publication of the communiqu\u00e9, Julio Olivo, a magistrate on the TSE, said that he was \u201csurprised\u201d by the statement. \u201cThe tribunal did not formally meet to discuss it,\u201d Olivo tweeted. \u201cIt was an expedited agreement that arose from informal talks involving the presiding magistrate.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele, who regularly communicates via social media, had yet to comment on the ruling at the time of publication. The Salvadoran Vice President, F\u00e9lix Ulloa, who is in charge of drafting proposals for constitutional reforms and presenting them to Bukele on September 15, as part of the bicentennial of El Salvador's independence, has also remained silent. Ulloa had previously insisted that the articles of the Constitution prohibiting consecutive reelection are set in stone, and cannot be modified, and has stressed that any attempt to violate this provision would constitute a cause for insurrection.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHarsh Condemnation from the United States\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe U.S. Embassy\u2019s charg\u00e9e d'affaires in San Salvador, Jean Manes, was the first diplomatic representative to publicly react to the decision. On Saturday night, 24 hours after the court issued the ruling, Manes said during a press conference that the U.S. government \u201ccondemns the decision taken on September 3 by the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador\u2019s Supreme Court.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThis decision allows for the consecutive reelection of the president and is in clear violation of the Salvadoran Constitution, which stipulates that consecutive presidential reelection is not permitted,\u201d said Manes, who served as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador between 2016 and 2019, and is currently the U.S. Embassy\u2019s charg\u00e9e d'affaires ad interim.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn her statement, Manes drew connections between this new resolution and the series of recent actions taken by the Bukele administration to take control of all three branches of government. She said the ruling was \u201ca direct result of the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly's decision on May 1st to unconstitutionally remove the sitting magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber and install replacements loyal to the executive branch,\u201d adding that these moves reflect \u201ca clear strategy\u201d on the part of the president \u201cto undermine judicial independence and eliminate a key counterweight to executive power.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1335&ImageId=36271\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"The charg\u00e9e d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador speaks at a press conference on the night of September 4, 2021. Photo: U.S. Embassy\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EThe charg\u00e9e d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador speaks at a press conference on the night of September 4, 2021. Photo: U.S. Embassy\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThese harsh statements from the ambassador represent an unprecedented escalation in the Biden administration\u2019s tone toward the Bukele regime. Despite the U.S. administration\u2019s condemnation of \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202002\/el_salvador\/24021\/Constitutional-Court-to-Bukele-Stop-Using-the-Armed-Forces-to-Put-Democracy-at-Risk.htm\"\u003Ethe military occupation of Congress\u003C\/a\u003E on February 9, 2020, and its unsuccessful attempt to demand the reinstatement of the magistrates illegally deposed on May 1, the White House has since tried to build bridges with Bukele in an effort to increase U.S. influence on his government.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe appointment of Manes as virtual interim ambassador on May 26 \u2014 following an announcement by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on May 4 that the U.S. would withdraw aid for El Salvador\u2019s Attorney General Office, Police, and Supreme Court \u2014 was a step in that direction. During her first post in the country, Manes maintained a close relationship with Bukele, then the mayor of the capital, San Salvador, and as recently as one week ago, sources in Washington were celebrating Manes\u2019 success in establishing direct and regular communication with the Salvadoran president.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut on Saturday, the U.S. ambassador compared Bukele to former Venezuelan president Hugo Ch\u00e1vez and said that El Salvador is \u201ca democracy in decline.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cWe\u2019ve seen what happens when other countries in the region have followed this path, like in the case of Venezuela, where Ch\u00e1vez was elected democratically, but worked little by little to acquire more power and limit independence,\u201d Manes said. \u201cI think many Venezuelans believed they were living in a democracy, because they had valid reasons to elect him, but when the independence of a country\u2019s institutions is eroded little by little, we know where that road leads.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EManes, who as recently as August 27 oversaw the donation of eight U.S. helicopters and various other military equipment to the Salvadoran Armed Forces, did not respond when asked if the White House would impose sanctions on El Salvador, but spoke of possible consequences for foreign investment. \u201cThis level of uncertainty is exactly what you don't want if you\u2019re looking to attract good investment to the country,\u201d Manes said. \u201cThe companies we\u2019re trying to bring in are thinking about investing in a different country now [...] You need a functioning judicial system, and at the moment, it\u2019s clearly not functioning.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EManes also repudiated the new reform to the Law of Judicial Careers, approved on August 31 by the loyalists in the Legislative Assembly and mandating the retirement of all judges over the age of 60, or those who have served for more than 30 years, and expressing skepticism at the argument of backers of the reforms who claim they are aimed at combating corruption in the judicial system. \u201cIf they want to combat corruption, we support them, but that\u2019s not what\u2019s going on here,\u201d Manes said. \u201cThis has to do with removing individuals and replacing them with loyalists picked by [Bukele] \u2014 that much is clear.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EFighting Fire with Fire\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe decision by the Constitutional Chamber to greenlight Bukele\u2019s reelection comes during one of the least favorable international moments for the president since he assumed office in 2019, and at a time when his popularity among Salvadorans, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.laprensagrafica.com\/lpgdatos\/LPG-Datos--Aprobacion-de-Bukele-casi-indemne-20210903-0001.html\"\u003Estill very high\u003C\/a\u003E, has started to drop a few points in the polls.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe resolution was made public four days before the so-called \u201cBitcoin Law\u201d is set to go into effect next Tuesday, September 7. That law will authorize the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal national tender and make its use mandatory countrywide. Despite the official discourse touting the benefits of Bitcoin, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/uca.edu.sv\/iudop\/wp-content\/uploads\/PPT-Coyuntura-sociopolitica-FINAL-1.pdf\"\u003Ea survey by the Central American University (UCA)\u003C\/a\u003E revealed last week that seven out of ten Salvadorans are against using the cryptocurrency, and more than 90% are opposed to the law.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202108\/el_salvador\/25670\/Criminal-Investigation-Found-the-Bukele-Administration-Hid-Evidence-of-Negotiations-with-Gangs.htm\"\u003ESecret negotiations between the country\u2019s three most powerful gangs\u003C\/a\u003E, revealed by El Faro on August 23, along with the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/mailchi.mp\/elfaro.net\/elfaro-english-bukele-purges-judiciary-6213384?e=e908040733\"\u003Eunconstitutional reforms to the Law of Judicial Careers\u003C\/a\u003E approved by the regime\u2019s ruling-party bloc in the Assembly, have prompted international condemnation. Adding to the list is the arrest last Wednesday of Mario G\u00f3mez, a computer specialist and outspoken critic of Bitcoin. Police detained G\u00f3mez without a warrant and without charge. He was released hours later following a surge of citizen complaints on social media, but the police confiscated his phones.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EUnlike other moments in his presidency, for more than two weeks Bukele seems to have lost control of the national narrative. Since Friday, the controversial judgements of pro-Bukele magistrates on the Supreme Court have relegated other recent scandals to the background.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36270\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"President Nayib Bukele, at the request of the president of the Legislative Assembly, rings the gong to begin an \u201cextraordinary plenary session on accountability\u201d in June 2021, during his second year in office. Photo by V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EPresident Nayib Bukele, at the request of the president of the Legislative Assembly, rings the gong to begin an \u201cextraordinary plenary session on accountability\u201d in June 2021, during his second year in office. Photo by V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EReactions to the Ruling\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOver the weekend, various nongovernmental organizations, jurists, and judges unaligned with the Bukele regime reacted to the Constitutional Chamber\u2019s ruling. All of them rejected the legitimacy of the decision. Fearing reprisals, several judges spoke with El Faro on condition of anonymity.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAmong those who agreed to offer their opinions publicly was Judge Antonio Dur\u00e1n, a high-level sentencing judge in San Salvador, who said that the Constitutional Chamber\u2019s resolution is juridically meaningless since it is in direct violation of the constitution. \u201cThe letter and spirit of the constitution prohibit consecutive presidential reelection,\u201d he said, citing Article 88 of the Constitution, which states: \u201cAlternation in the exercise of the Presidency of the Republic is indispensable for the maintenance of the established political system and form of government. The violation of this norm is grounds for insurrection.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGodofredo Salazar, a specialized sentencing judge in San Salvador who adjudicates cases involving organized crime, said that the de facto magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber made a \u201cvery convenient interpretation\u201d aimed at defending the interests of the executive branch.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EJos\u00e9 Marinero, president of the Foundation for Democracy, Transparency, and Justice, warned that the resolution confirms the autocratic character of the Bukele regime and affirms the ruling party\u2019s project of concentrating and maintaining power.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThis resolution was passed by five usurpers,\u201d Marinero said. \u201cThis is the behavior of thugs. There are at least two major risks we see: the first is that the decision is the prologue to a larger project of consolidating an autocratic regime. This [decision] will no doubt be incorporated and enshrined in the constitution.\u201d The second risk, Marinero added, is that it clears the way for the regime\u2019s indefinite perpetuation. \u201cIt\u2019s perfectly clear that this decision is an attack on the country\u2019s electoral laws, and means that we can rule out the possibility of fair and clean elections in 2024.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESonia Rubio Padilla, political scientist with the Due Process of Law Foundation, also thinks the decisions made by the Constitutional Chamber\u2019s current magistrates are illegitimate, due to the illegal nature of the process by which the judges were appointed. \u201cThis decision contradicts the letter of the Salvadoran constitution [article 154], which expressly forbids the extension of [the president\u2019s] constitutional mandate not one day [beyond the five year term],\u201d she said. \u201cThus, this supposed interpretation, by exceeding the limits of the text itself, is actually a modification to the Constitution disguised as an interpretation.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAbraham \u00c1brego, a lawyer with the human rights organization Cristosal, which has been one of the organizations most active in denouncing the Bukele regime\u2019s violations of democratic institutionality, agrees, arguing that \u201cthe Constitutional Chamber\u2019s decision has no justification [because] the previous magistrates, the legitimate ones, established that the president is required to wait two presidential terms [before running again].\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EBukelistas Kick Off their Campaign\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn contrast to Bukele\u2019s silence since the ruling, several members of his cabinet, along with representatives from the Nuevas Ideas bloc in the Legislative Assembly and other party allies, publicly celebrated the court\u2019s decision and unofficially launched the president\u2019s reelection campaign.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOne of the most outspoken was Ricardo Cucal\u00f3n, El Salvador\u2019s Director of Migration, who has been one of Bukele\u2019s most vocal supporters, and has leveled some of the harshest insults against the president\u2019s opponents. On Twitter, Cucal\u00f3n posted a photo of Bukele\u2019s face edited onto the body of Captain America and superimposed with text reading \u201cCaptain El Salvador\u201d and \u201cReelection 2024-2029,\u201d in reference to the term of the next administration.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president of the ruling Nuevas Ideas party and a nephew of Nayib Bukele, Xavier Zablah, also expressed his delight on Twitter, writing: \u201cPresident @nayibbukele, if you decide [to run], your whole party is behind you, ready to continue fighting for the transformation of our beloved country.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe celebrations of other senior officials, like Health Minister Francisco Alab\u00ed and the head of Bukele\u2019s cabinet, Carolina Recinos, were slightly more cautious. Both Alab\u00ed and Recinos have been singled out in journalistic investigations for corruption related to irregular pandemic purchases, and \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202107\/centroamerica\/25586\/State-Department-Accuses-Four-Senior-Bukele-Officials-of-Corruption.htm\"\u003ERecinos is among the Salvadoran officials sanctioned by the United States\u003C\/a\u003E following her inclusion on the Engel List.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAmong officials from the opposition, few have expressed opinions on the ruling. Arena Party representative Ren\u00e9 Portillo Cuadra called the resolution \u201ca smokescreen\u201d to divert attention from the implementation of the Bitcoin Law. \u201cWhen I say a smokescreen, I don\u2019t mean to downplay the importance of the Chamber's ruling, just to highlight the timing of the decision,\u201d he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnabel Belloso, one of four representatives from the FMLN, believes the resolution only proves that Bukele's objective is to further consolidate power. \u201cAt this point, it\u2019s already a dictatorship,\u201d she said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EQuestioned about her party's support for the regime of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, which was consolidated through maneuvers similar to those of Bukele, Belloso called for \u201crespecting the internal processes of each country, and the safeguarding of human rights. Now it\u2019s up to us Salvadorans to confront the dictatorship and its allies and restore our democracy.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EH\u00e9ctor Silva Hern\u00e1ndez, a San Salvador city council representative and member of the Nuestro Tiempo party, said that he felt the ruling was \u201ca sad and painful culmination\u201d of the democratic regression the country has experienced under Bukele. The situation continues to worsen, he said, because the political opposition continues to be \u201cextremely scattered.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E*Translated by Max Granger\u003C\/p\u003E"}