Security & Strategic Review - April 2020

EL SALVADOR: Executive-legislative tensions escalate

The bold action by President Nayib Bukele to address the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country, declaring a national state of emergency even before the first domestic case had been detected [WR-20-11], may have been welcomed given the urgency of the pandemic. However, it was also received with caution given recent indications of his apparent disregard for institutional steps and willingness to take authoritarian steps. This was laid bare in February last with his deployment of the armed forces (FFAA) and police (PNC) to pressure national deputies into approving a loan to finance public security. Marking the culmination of tensions between the two branches of government which have emerged since Bukele took office in June 2019, the scenes attracted particular alarm, triggering memories of the country’s civil war (1980-1992) and military dictatorship (1979-1980).

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