August 9, 2020

El Salvador extends state of emergency to continue fight against COVID-19

The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador extended this Thursday for a further fifteen days the national state of emergency to confront and stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left, for the moment, 164 infections and six deaths in this Central American country.

This extension, which was approved with 65 votes from the 84 deputies, does not imply the suspension of constitutional guarantees and will come into effect after its publication in the Official Gazette.

The approval came after several hours of negotiations by the Political Commission of Congress that brings together the leaders of each political party and after the threat of the country’s president, Nayib Bukele, to veto an expansion with reforms.

“They seek to raise the contagions at all costs. Despite the fact that the people observe them. That decree will be vetoed,” Bukele warned after pointing out to opponents Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena, right) and Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN, left) of wanting to take away the tools to maintain a mandatory household quarantine.

The deputy Guillermo Gallegos, of the official Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA, right), applauded the approval of the extension and pointed out that if it was not given, the president “was not going to sit idly by.”

After praising the government’s work, Gallegos said that the six deaths that the pandemic has left in the country are “few.”

For his part, MP Rodolfo Parker, of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), expressed his “full disappointment” by not voting initially on the proposal prepared and rejected by Bukele.

He explained that in this proposal, among other things, the aim was to “avoid arbitrary arrests”, to separate in the detention centers people who will skip the quarantine from others with symptoms or suspicions of COVID-19.

According to Parker, the initiative included precautionary measures issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to stop “forced” arrests and confinements.

Other aspects that included, according to the Christian Democrat legislator, were setting deadlines for serving quarantines, giving “confined and humane treatment” to the confined people, mechanisms for the return of Salvadorans abroad and the “inviolability of the dwelling”.

This last point has caused controversy in the country, given that the Executive has included in the decree of compulsory home quarantine that citizens are obliged to allow delegates of the Ministry of Health to enter their homes.

However, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman has registered complaints of raids by police and soldiers, allegedly covered by the aforementioned executive decree.

This tension between the Executive and the Legislative adds to the clash registered since Wednesday night with the Supreme Court after Bukele’s announcement that he would not obey a ruling of the Constitutional Chamber in which he was ordered to stop the arrests and quarantines ” forced. “

“He (Bukele) wants to legislate and he wants to be the highest interpreter of the constitution,” Parker criticized at the end of his speech.

The extension of the state of emergency was reached with the votes of GANA, FMLN, Partido de Concertación Nacional (PCN, right), Cambio Democrático (CD, center) and some from Arena.

“The pressure worked. Hopefully it won’t be necessary in 15 days,” Bukele said from his Twitter account after learning of the vote.


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