June 24, 2021

The pandemic puts El Salvador at the door of a new institutional crisis

El Salvador woke up this Thursday at the door of a new institutional crisis after the announcement by President Nayib Bukele to ignore a Supreme Court ruling ordering to stop the “forced” arrests and confinements of those who violate the quarantine decreed before the COVID pandemic- 19.

“I do not understand their morbid desire that our people die, but I swore that I would comply and enforce the Constitution. Just as I would not abide by a resolution ordering me to kill Salvadorans, I also cannot abide by a resolution that orders me to let them die,” Bukele published. on their social networks.

This decision of the president would become the second clash that the Executive has with another state organ, the first occurred on February 9 last, when he entered the Legislative Assembly with soldiers and policemen armed with assault rifles.

Bukele recently admitted that it was a measure of “pressure” against that body to obtain funds for security.


Bukele’s publication was in response to a resolution to follow up on the precautionary measures issued in a “habeas corpus” of March 26 and ratified on April 8 by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme

In these measures, the constitutional judges prohibited Bukele and the police authorities from “depriving persons who fail to comply with the order of house quarantine in the form of confinement or forced sanitary confinement.”

This order would be in effect as long as Congress, according to the ruling, “does not issue a formal law establishing said measure.”

However, Bukele ordered on April 6 to tighten police and military controls and continued with these arrests, which add up to 2,108, according to official data.

The Constitutional Chamber held that its rulings “are not petitions, requests or mere opinions subject to the interpretation or discretionary assessment of the authorities to whom they are addressed, but that they are orders of mandatory and immediate compliance.”

He also warned that “public actions that contradict” its decisions “violate the Primary Law and must generate, without exception, the corresponding responsibility.”

In addition, the Supreme Court justices delegated the Human Rights attorney, José Apolonio Tobar, to verify compliance with the ordered measures.

They also sent the Police and the Army to prepare a registry of the persons deprived of liberty for violation of the household quarantine and the conditions, motives and those responsible for their detention.


“The joke is told alone” and “no resolution is above the constitutional right to life and health of the Salvadoran people,” Bukele said after questioning Tobar’s appointment.

Then he added that the mandatory household quarantine and the detention of people who bypass the measure “remain intact.”

The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman has documented at least 102 complaints against the security forces related to violations of freedom and integrity,

Also, according to Tobar’s complaint, alleged illegal raids on homes in the departments of San Salvador and Santa Ana (west) by elite elements were reported.


The attorney general, Raúl Melara, announced this Thursday that the Public Ministry “will always remain the guarantor of legality”, without making direct reference to Bukele’s announcement.

“In every rule of law there is a system of checks and balances, to which we must all submit. The @SalaCnalSV (Constitutional Chamber) is part of that system and therefore, its resolutions are mandatory,” he said.

Various human rights organizations also demonstrated against Bukele’s decision.

“Disregarding a resolution issued by the Court implies a serious injury to the institutions in the country,” said the program director of the Cristosal organization, Celia Medrano.

The activist called on the Legislative organ, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Court to “act simultaneously and drastically” in the face of the “threat of contempt of the Constitution.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has also joined the calls to comply with the resolutions of the Constitutional Chamber.

This situation occurs in the midst of the fight that the country is waging against COVID-19 at a time when various health workers, according to local media, have been infected and without the Government having realized this, despite the questions from the press.

Health workers have also been discriminated against by their neighbors, according to information in the national media.

Human Rights Watch warned that Bukele’s statements about tightening controls “have promoted the excessive use of force” and the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) included El Salvador among the countries at risk of restricting the media during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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