Washington, D.C. – Following the removal of constitutional court judges and Attorney General Raúl Melara by President Nayib Bukele and his allies in Congress, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Albio Sires, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy, issued the following statement:

“On Saturday night, President Nayib Bukele inflicted a brutal blow to El Salvador’s democracy. The removal of constitutional court judges and installation of political loyalists to replace them clearly failed to meet the standard established in Salvadoran law and directly undermined the spirit of the 1992 Peace Accords process.  The subsequent removal of the Attorney General, who had been investigating acts of corruption by past and current government officials, severely damaged the integrity and independence of the justice system. In one night, President Bukele effectively erased the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary—conditions upon which a functional democracy depends.

“The actions taken by President Bukele merit a firm response. The U.S. should immediately withhold and reassess its assistance to Salvadoran justice sector institutions. Responsible stewardship of U.S. taxpayer resources requires an objective assessment of whether these newly installed individuals, including the new attorney general, plan to deliver equal justice under Salvadoran law or to promote the narrow interests of the President and his allies. The U.S. should also revoke the U.S. visas of those in the legislature and national police who orchestrated Saturday night’s events. We urge the Organization of American States to urgently review whether the actions of El Salvador’s Congress have violated the country’s obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

“President Bukele was elected by a majority of Salvadorans and his political party, Nuevas Ideas, achieved a sweeping victory in recent legislative elections. That popular mandate presented him with a choice to either govern in the interest of Salvadoran democracy and all Salvadorans or enact an agenda aimed at consolidating power and silencing his critics. Saturday’s events offer a worrying sign of which choice he has made. In the interest of U.S.-Salvadoran relations, we urge him to reverse course, restore constitutional order, and pursue an inclusive and democratic governing agenda.”

 

###