Latin American Weekly Report

06/02/2020 - Bukele orders military takeover of congress

The image of heavily armed soldiers stationed inside and outside El Salvador’s legislative assembly on 9 February had a chilling effect on democrats across the region and beyond. They were there on the express orders of President Nayib Bukele who, in front of a large crowd he had rallied on social media, strode into the building like a conquering general to look down on the vanquished. Bukele berated deputies for failing to approve a loan to finance his government’s security plan. He then walked out, but not before giving deputies a one-week ultimatum to approve the loan. Bukele has since sought to downplay the whole incident but beneath the bravado in his tweets there is a sense that he miscalculated the reaction. Still, unchastened by a rebuke from the constitutional chamber of the supreme court, he will not back down in his dispute with deputies despite the damage to the country’s democratic institutions.

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