Salvador ‘rocked’ by anti-Bukele protests


Thousands of people in El Salvador took to the streets on Sunday in protest against President Nayib Bukele who has stoked concern that he is steadily concentrating power and who responded with changing his Twitter profile late in the day to “Emperor of El Salvador,” Reuters reports. It was at least the second large protest in just over a month, following marches in September that denounced bitcoin being made legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar.

“People are starting to get tired of this authoritarian government, (it’s) anti-democratic,” Ricardo Navarro, the head of the environmentalist NGO Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology, told the AFP news agency. “He is already taking us down a cliff with his bad ideas that are already affecting the economy with this Bitcoin.”

Members of the opposition said participation in Sunday’s protest was also about other policies from Bukele and his congressional allies.

“He attacked judicial independence,” Medardo Gonzalez, the former leader of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) told AFP, referring to the recent legislative vote to remove judges more than 60 years of age or who have served more than 30 years. And the head of the Salvadoran Trade Union Front Wilfredo Berrios told AFP he had come to the protest to march against water privatisation, as Congress debates a law that would guarantee water access for the whole population and ban any private takeover.

A leading Salvadoran civil society group will be recognized this week with the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2021 Award (see below). Asociación Transparencia, Contraloría Social y Datos Abiertos (Transparency, Social Oversight, and Open Data Association, or TRACODA) is an organization of young professionals committed to strengthening democracy and combatting corruption in public and private spheres.

TRACODA’s Diego Mauricio Jacobo Valladares has worked as a technical analyst in matters of public finance control and auditing for the drafting of legal reforms for a NED-financed project, “Strengthening the fiscal surveillance entity in El Salvador.”

TRACODA was one of 60 civil society groups that denounced the deteriorating human rights situation as a result of President Nayib Bukele and his party’s abuse of power, including the attempted takeover of the Legislative Assembly by the President and the armed forces in 2020, the irregular dismissal of members of the Constitutional Chamber and the Attorney General of the Republic on 1 May 2021 and the repeated use of the pandemic to control and restrict rights and freedoms, FIDH adds. Government officials’ persecution and harassment of opponents, human rights defenders and journalists has also raised concerns at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).



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