A group of members of Congress, led by Representative Ilhan Omar, has submitted a compelling letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, pressing the Biden administration to confront severe risks to democracy and human rights in El Salvador ahead of the 2018 elections.
The letter expresses grave worry over President Nayib Bukele’s recent declaration of a state of emergency, noting unlawful arrests, persecution of political opponents, restrictions on press freedoms, and other authoritarian activities as grounds for immediate involvement. Members of Congress are concerned that these moves show a tendency towards authoritarian governance under President Bukele’s leadership.
The letter’s principal message emphasizes the need for the State Department to review its relationship with El Salvador and use America’s diplomatic leverage to protect democratic norms.
Members of Congress claim that President Bukele’s administration has seen a disturbing erosion of judicial independence, militarized harassment of the legislature, and the de facto criminalization of civil society throughout his first term.
One of the main issues mentioned in the letter is the State Department’s public message on the approaching elections, which some Members believe is excessively optimistic about President Bukele’s re-election effort.
The letter underscores that it is not the job of the US government to interfere in a foreign country’s electoral process, but the signatories are concerned about perceived biases in the State Department’s pronouncements.
Representatives Joaquin Castro, Jesús “Chuy” García, Pramila Jayapal, Greg Casar, Linda T. Sánchez, Mark Pocan, Nydia M. Velázquez, Raúl Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jamie Raskin, and Jan Schakowsky are among those who have signed the letter. Their joint appeal to action demonstrates a bipartisan effort to address El Salvador’s increasing issues.
As the crisis develops, Members of Congress call for a complete review of America’s diplomatic policy and involvement with El Salvador, encouraging the Biden administration to take strong action to protect democratic values and human rights in the area. The letter’s full wording is available to the public, providing openness and insight into the issues behind this collaborative plea.