LatinNews Daily - 12 February 2024

US responds to Bukele’s win in El Salvador

El Salvador: On 5 February US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele on his re-election victory the previous day. Blinken stated in a press release that, “looking ahead, the United States will continue to prioritise good governance, inclusive economic prosperity, fair trial guarantees, and human rights in El Salvador under our Root Causes Strategy”, in reference to the US strategy of tackling the root causes of migration. The US has softened its stance towards El Salvador, having previously raised concerns over human rights abuses in relation to the government’s crackdown on gangs and democratic backsliding, following the 2021 lifting of the ban on consecutive presidential re-election. However, on 5 February, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chair of the senate foreign relations committee, together with senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), expressed concern over the “unconstitutional moves that strongly influenced the outcome of [El Salvador’s] election”, as well as “weakened transparency and oversight mechanisms and the rapid undermining of the rule of law and human rights protections”. This echoes concerns raised by representatives from the Democratic party prior to the elections. On 30 January a group of US congress members led by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wrote a letter to the administration of US President Joe Biden urging it to “address ongoing threats to democracy and human rights” in El Salvador. “It is not the place of the United States government to determine who is eligible to run for President in a foreign country, nor to pick winners,” reads the letter. “We are nevertheless alarmed that some of the State Department’s public messaging on the elections has been overly credulous toward President Bukele’s re-election bid, and his governance.

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