Attacks Against Electoral Tribunal In El Salvador Threaten Peace And Democracy

Press Release

For Immediate Release:
December 14, 2020

Media Contact:
Samantha Pineda (202) 820-1894, [email protected]

Washington – The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) calls on United States government officials and international human rights organizations to denounce President Nayib Bukele’s attacks against the institutional legitimacy of El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

In the lead up to El Salvador’s legislative and municipal elections, scheduled to take place on February 28, President Bukele and representatives of his Nuevas Ideas NI (New Ideas) party, have accused election officials of conspiring to commit fraud. Political analysts in the country have stated that this is part of an effort by the administration to preemptively cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral results. To read full statement, click here

In some cases, the president’s public statements have ignited violent actions on behalf of NI sympathizers which have been condemned by the TSE. On November 30, representatives of NI physically locked election officials at the TSE headquarters in San Salvador, a crime that constitutes deprivation of freedom and that is now being investigated by the Attorney General. 

According to political analysts from the movement of Professionals for the Transformation of El Salvador (PROES), these actions are being used to pressure elections officials into registering NI candidates who do not meet the requirements to run for office, such as providing proof that they are in good fiscal standing.  Human rights organizations and political parties across the spectrum are calling for international condemnation. 

On December 10, over twenty human rights organizations signed a statement denouncing the president's anti-democratic actions, “The Government is placed in illegality, does not comply with its obligations, disrespects the independence of powers, the Constitution and the laws, does not render accounts or report on the management of its resources. In turn, President Bukele lies, insults and defames the opposition and threatens the press that bends to his interests.”

Despite sustained aggression, police officials have not acted in defense of electoral officials and have instead detained at least two election officials in Sonsonate and the capital city of San Salvador. “By exercising repression against the personnel of the TSE and violating the right to individual liberty of the employees of said institution, the New Ideas party violated democratic institutions, with the complicity of the PNC,” said PROES in a statement on December 2.

"We have listened to the complaints of human rights defenders and we are struck by the fact that the police seem to be being used for political-electoral purposes in favor of Nuevas Ideas and not working for the protection of citizens" said CISPES Program Director Samantha Pineda. “We are urging government officials and international human rights organizations in the US to condemn these anti-democratic actions on behalf of the Bukele Administration and his sympathizers,” added Pineda.

The Electoral Tribunal was founded in 1991 as part of peace agreements between the Salvadoran state and the then Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) organized resistance. It is the highest authority on electoral matters in the country.

CISPES has accompanied the democratic process in El Salvador with delegations of international election observers since 1994. To get more information about developments taking place in relation to the elections or to schedule interviews with civil society leaders in El Salvador, please contact [email protected]

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