Militarization in Congress was an attempt by President Bukele to pressure deputies to vote on a proposal for a loan that is pending.
Nayib Bukele, president of El Salvador. / Photo: Presidency
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez
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Leer en español: El Salvador: Nayib Bukele se enfrenta al Congreso
The growing tension between the Legislative and President Nayib Bukele has reached instances never thought of. The image that was lived last Sunday in the premises of Parliament was an act of pressure by Bukele. While a parliamentary session was taking place, several members of the Armed Forces loaded with weapons of war entered and settled there to pressure the deputies.
Nayib Bukele's proposal, and the reason why he is pressing intensively on Congress, is the negotiation of a loan for US $ 109 million to launch the Third Phase of the Territorial Control Plan. With this money, the Salvadoran president aims to modernize the armament of the National Civil Police (PNC) and that of the Armed Forces. This proposal is aligned with one of the axes of his presidential campaign, where he intended to strengthen them in order to combat the country's criminal gangs more effectively.
Thus, the presence of the military in the parliamentary session was related to the theme of the proposal that Bukele wants to press.
On Friday afternoon Nayib Bukele convened an 'emergency assembly'. According to article 167 of the Constitution, in its separate number 7, the Council of Ministers has the power to "convene extraordinarily to the Legislative Assembly, when the interests of the Republic demand it." Following this article, Congress should vote on this proposal on the Sunday that happened without the possibility of dilatation.
This fact was criticized by members of Congress, who have assured that the issue is not an emergency and there was no justification for an extraordinary assembly. This, criticized as an abuse of power by some opponents, added to the presence of the Military Forces in that extraordinary Assembly, was considered an extremist act of Bukele. Not only were his critics who criticized him, but also the actions put him in the eye of the hurricane in front of inter-American human rights organizations.
José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas of the Human Rights Watch organization expressed his dissatisfaction with what happened and said that "threatens democracy and should be condemned without ambiguity."
Esta exhibición de fuerza bruta justifica reunión urgente de la OEA, @Almagro_OEA2015 en función de la Carta Democrática. @nayibbukele ordenó ingreso de militares con armas largas a la sesión del Congreso para “persuadir” a los congresistas de las virtudes de su gobierno? https://t.co/4RZXDN0mb5— José Miguel Vivanco (@JMVivancoHRW) February 9, 2020
Call to the 'insurrection'
Bukele wants to approve that negotiation at all costs because, he says, it is a national emergency because fighting criminal gangs is a priority. Therefore, at the time of calling the extraordinary Assembly he also threatened to 'call the insurrection', through Article 87 of the Constitution.
After the failed extraordinary Assembly, which was attended by less than half of the deputies, despite the fact that the president had said it was his mandatory duty, he decided to fulfill his threat and make a call to the people according to Article 87. This article recognizes “the right of the people to insurrection, for the sole purpose of restoring the constitutional order altered by the transgression of the norms related to the form of government or the political system established, or by serious violations of the rights enshrined in this Constitution".
Likewise, the article says that “it will be limited to separating the transgressing officials as necessary, replacing them temporarily until they are replaced in the manner established by this constitution”. This is intended to be a call for the people of El Salvador to rule against Congress.
Hacemos del conocimiento de la población: pic.twitter.com/wScINlODR7— Casa Presidencial (@PresidenciaSV) February 10, 2020
The decision to call the insurrection was once again cataloged as a fact that undermines the country's democracy and was criticized by different international organizations and internal political sectors. The opposition, meanwhile, criticized the decision and classified it as an attempt to 'Coup d'etat' to Parliament.