The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly re-elected Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado, a lawyer who, according to opponents, is close to the government of President Nayib Bukele.
Delgado had been appointed attorney general on May 1, the date on which the new Legislative Assembly controlled by the New Ideas party of Bukele took office and the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Court were removed with a stroke of the pen. then Attorney General Raúl Melara, who were immediately replaced.
A month later, Delgado announced that El Salvador was ending its cooperation agreement with the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador, supported by the Organization of American States.
The dismissal of the Supreme Court magistrates and the chief prosecutor of the Central American country was the trigger for a growing deterioration in relations between the governments of the United States and El Salvador.
Delgado received the votes of 66 of the 84 deputies of the New Ideas party and its allies who completely control the unicameral Congress. His re-election comes despite alleged opposition from the United States government, which, according to Bukele, had asked that Delgado not be re-elected.
Recent US allegations that the Salvadoran president’s government negotiated with powerful gangs with a presence in much of the country prompted Bukele to reveal alleged conversations on WhatsApp with the then top US diplomat in El Salvador, Jean Manes.
Bukele assured that, in his last meeting with Manes, the diplomat asked him for the release of the former mayor of San Salvador, Ernesto Muyshondt, and the non-reelection of Delgado.
Bukele responded to Mrs. Manes in a tweet that “he did not have the power to release Ernesto Muyshondt; It was also evident that SHE HAD GIVEN MONEY TO GANGS and that there were 2 videos that proved it. One of them shows her handing over a mountain of cash.”
The US embassy had not yet made any comments on the Salvadoran leader’s statement.
Regarding the re-election of the current prosecutor, Bukele said “that he believed that Rodolfo Delgado had done a good job so far, as attorney general” and that he would not interfere if the Legislative Assembly decided to re-elect him.
At the end of last month, Manes announced that she would step down, noting that Bukele “shows no interest” in improving the bilateral relationship.
Delgado has spent much of his career in the Public Ministry, holding various positions, including that of Advisor to the Attorney General from 2016 to 2017.
After leaving that position, Delgado worked in private practice, including defending the Director of Police, whom the previous Legislative Assembly had accused of breach of his functions.
Citizen Action, a non-governmental organization that promotes transparency, regretted that Congress carried out an election process “that does not comply with international standards on the matter”, as it considered that the profile of the official to be elected was not defined, nor were they established objective criteria for evaluating applicants.
According to the NGO, the process does not offer sufficient guarantees that an independent and impartial person was chosen.
The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party said it did not vote because Delgado is an imposed prosecutor and lacks independence, since “he only pursues cases against opponents and has a questionable past,” it added.
For his part, Bukele lashed out at opponents on his Twitter account. “The election of the Attorney General makes it clear that the opposition only attacks to attack. If they vote together, they say they are robots. If they vote separately, they say that dark interests divide them. The opposition will attack ANYTHING. It does not matter if it is contrary to what they had attacked before”.