US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that she held a lengthy meeting with the Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, in which she pointed out the need to strengthen El Salvador’s democratic institutions and establish a body to combat the corruption.
“My message to President Bukele on behalf of President (Joe) Biden and Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken was very simple: The United States values this relationship and we need the strongest, cleanest, and most democratic partner in El Salvador,” Nuland told a group of journalists.
The official arrived in El Salvador on a tour of Paraguay and Panama to meet with Bukele and other political leaders to discuss migration, democracy and regional goals.
She also met with members of civil society and the private sector to analyze the fundamental role that these groups play in generating “an environment in which all Salvadorans can prosper.”
Nuland said that in the meeting with the Salvadoran president they spoke about what is going well “within our relationship”, but “we also spoke frankly about the essential need to strengthen democratic institutions, and the need to preserve, promote and defend all democratic principles that make us who we are”.
She added that, at the meeting at the Presidential House, the need to have an independent judicial system, a general prosecutor and judges who are elected through a transparent process, and “the need to establish a supervisory body of the corruption that is independent, that is the successor of the CICIES (International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador)”.
The US official congratulated El Salvador for handling the new coronavirus pandemic and announced that “a substantial donation of vaccines from the United States will be arriving in the country in the coming weeks.”
Nuland revealed that with Bukele they established a “very ambitious work plan” that will be developed in the coming weeks and months, which seeks to “take our relationship to the next level for the benefit of our peoples.”
The United States government and the international community have harshly criticized the Bukele government for the removal of the Supreme Court justices and the attorney general.
On May 1, after settling in, the deputies summoned the first plenary session and dismissed the five regular and alternate magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber, as well as the attorney general. That same night the successors were elected and sworn in, including the lawyer López Jerez as president of the Supreme Court and of the Constitutional Chamber.
The White House special envoy, Ricardo Zúñiga, strongly criticized the decision and recommended restoring the previous situation.
In response to the dismissals, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) withdrew its assistance to public institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office, noting that such assistance would be given to organizations of the civil society.
The hearing of the high-level delegation of the US government, led by Nuland, coincided with the reelection of Óscar López Jerez as president of the Supreme Court of Justice.
López Jerez, a lawyer allegedly aligned with the president, was elected on May 1 to the position of president of the Court and of the Constitutional Chamber, and his term will now end on June 30, 2024.
The Legislative Assembly, controlled by Bukele’s New Ideas party, also elected five other Supreme Court justices to replace the lawyers who were serving their nine-year term in El Salvador’s highest court of justice on June 30.
The Bukele government has also been criticized for the approval of a new special health law that gives immunity to persons or entities of the public health sector from legal or administrative lawsuits for services in medical treatment for COVID-19, and that opens the door impunity in alleged acts of corruption.
Nuland also confirmed that the “Engel list” will be published in the coming days, which includes officials and individuals linked to acts of corruption in the three countries of the so-called Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador), and said that they hope that “they will take it seriously, investigate the cases and take the necessary steps to eliminate corruption in their countries”.
Regarding the use of bitcoin as a legal tender cryptocurrency, she said that she spoke about it with Bukele and “whatever El Salvador decides to do, the important thing is that it is guaranteed that it is well regulated, she urged him to guarantee that the use of the cryptocurrency is well regulated, transparent, responsible and protected from evil actors”.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.