Firing officials by tweet
He used social media to propel himself to the presidency of El Salvador. Now Nayib Bukele is using Twitter to govern the country, starting with firing officials from the former administration whom Bukele believes received their positions through nepotism. As Reuters reports:
The 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador, who was sworn in on Saturday, has taken some of his first actions in office via Twitter, including giving officials the ax.
His targets so far have included relatives of former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén and figures from the outgoing political party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.
“CEL President William Granadino is ordered to remove Claudia Sánchez Villalta, daughter of former President Sánchez Cerén, from her position,” he wrote in one such post on Tuesday, addressing the president of the country’s hydroelectric energy commission. “Do not hire a replacement.”
Bukele, an avid social media user with more than 700,000 Twitter followers, has fired several other officials via tweet.According to ContraPunto, Bukele has dismissed 28 relatives of FMLN leadership so for. In addition to dismissing officials who are relatives of FMLN party figures, Bukele also dismissed the director of Civil Protection, Jorge Alberto Meléndez, for being tied to the civil war-era murder of revolutionary poet Roque Dalton.
This approach of hiring and firing by Tweet is not without its critics. As Euronews reports:
Twitter users were taken by surprise and not all for the same reasons. Many see Bukele's posts as signs of transparency and say they're happy to see that the new president is taking action and doing something for El Salvador, a country that suffers from endemic violence, poverty and corruption.
Others are less amused. According to them, the "war" that Bukele is waging against the FMLN is an abuse of power — considering local media have revealed that the new government also employs several of Bukele's relatives
Jaime García Oriani, El Salvador political analyst, believes Bukele could face other problems if he does not follow the legal process of dismissals the country has.
"Here the law protects the public official, you can't just throw them out like that," he says in an interview with Euronews.
The FMLN itself has published a tweet on its official account, saying that "after the mass firings, the FMLN has put together a team of lawyers. We are studying the cases, preparing a defense and beginning the process between lawyers and affected officials, all in compliance with privacy from case to case", they wrote.While Bukele has been gathering the attention and press with his social media purge of certain officials from the government, human rights organizations like Cristosal and IDHUCA have been warning about the new heads of the National Civilian Police and the prison system. Receiving special criticism was new head of the PNC, Mauricio Antonio Arriaza Chicas, who has been linked over the years to various abuses within the PNC, including his time as head of one of the elite anti-gang units linked to extra-judicial executions. Equally concerning is the naming of a new vice minister of defense who has been active on the defense team for the retired officers implicated in the El Mozote massacre.
One might reasonably ask whether the campaign of firings by tweet, along with the president's sometimes humorous commentary about who is being kicked out of the government, is designed to steer us away from considering too closely who is being brought into his administration.