Bukele rejects authority of El Salvador Supreme Court in quarantine fight

In a dangerous move towards authoritarianism and a rejection of constitutional order, El Salvador's president Nayib Bukele last night went on a twitter rampage to declare that his government will not comply with rulings of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court.   The conflict arose out of a series of rulings by the Chamber which have rejected extremes of Bukele's measures against the novel coronavirus, especially the domestic quarantine, or stay at home order.   

The Chamber has ruled that Bukele exceeded his authority as he has been ruling by decree without laws passed by the Legislative Assembly supporting those actions.  The Chamber declared that persons found outside their houses cannot be arrested and carried off to quarantine centers if they are not symptomatic; the police cannot impound cars of persons who violated the quarantine; the government must have a plan to allow Salvadorans stranded abroad to return home.

Bukele's tweets were prompted by a ruling by the Chamber yesterday which put the country's governmental Human Rights Advocate (PDDH), Apolonio Tobar, in the role of overseeing the quarantine measures and reporting back to the Chamber.   Tobar has been a loud voice decrying excesses in police enforcement of the quarantine.

Bukele lashed out late last night:

The Constitutional Chamber delegates to the unconstitutional advocate the role to oversee the quarantine and to try to take away all our powers to enforce it?
The joke tells itself. 
NO resolution is above the constitutional right to life and health of the Salvadoran people. 
I don't understand their morbid desire that our people die, but I swore that I would and will enforce the constitution. 
Just as I would not abide by a resolution ordering me to kill Salvadorans, neither can I abide by a resolution that orders me to let them die. 
5 people are not going to decide the death of hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans. 
No matter how much ink and how many seals they have. 
It is one thing to interpret the Constitution, quite another to order the death of the people. 
The Chamber does not have powers to implement or remove sanitary measures, nor to decide on epidemiological matters. 
These are powers of the Ministry of Health, conferred in the Health Code, which the Constitution DOES NOT ALLOW to be repealed with a resolution to follow up on a Habeas Corpus ruling. 
The Chamber, in submission to the orders of its financiers, is trying to exceed its own limits. 
The Government of El Salvador will continue enforcing Executive Decree 19 100%.
All its provisions remain intact. 
We are going to fight the pandemic and the Salvadorans are going to win. 
Let's follow the [domestic quarantine] measures and remember, if it is not STRICTLY necessary, #QuedateEnCasa

Bukele's actions were immediately criticized by human rights activists and constitutional scholars.   The country's attorney general stated that the rulings of the Chamber must be followed.   The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights also called on the president to comply with the constitutional order while continuing in the fight against the pandemic.

Today El Salvador's Legislative Assembly will take up the question of whether to further extend the State of Emergency in the country and what legal authorizations it will give Bukele.   It is very unlikely that they will give him all he demands, and we could see Bukele decide to defy that branch of government as well. 


Carlos X. said…
Bukele marries the excesses of Donald Trump with the intelligence, charm and do-gooder instincts of Barack Obama, which makes Bukele a hundred times more dangerous than either one (depending on your political point of reference or, rather, without regard to it).
Tibu said…
Give me a f... break...Dot dare compare Obama to such 'deporable" like Bukele...intelligience? are you lacking brain matter? please. Its a cheap copy of Trump, therefore he should be called Trumpkele ...Esta gente esta en marte o que???/
Carlos X. said…
Tibu, I grew up in New York City where lobbying insults to express your disagreement is par for the course, so I am not shaken by your comparatively tepid haranguing. I will say this, though. I know many honest and decent Salvadorans who invested their hopes for a better future in Bukele. By the way, he still commands legions of followers today. I don't think he is a cheap version of Trump. There is no "cheap version of Trump." Trump to me is utterly loathesome and in another league altogether. So I find your argument unconvincing--on multiple levels.
Don said…
Look at what your blog has become, Tim. It's now a space for the 1% of the Salvadoran population that doesn't support Bukele to gather and discuss the great dictatorship they live under. 90% of the Salvadoran population recognize Bukele as the most competent and trustworthy president in the history of El Salvador. He is literally the most trusted person in El Salvador.
David Amdur said…
I find that Tim's blog is one of the better sources for information, news, and analysis about El Salvador. I disagree with the Jefferson's comments.