Coverage of fallout from May 1 removal of judges and attorney general

A week ago, the legislative super-majority held by the president’s Nuevas Ideas party and its allies removed from office top magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber and the attorney general.  This post gathers some of the coverage of those events and the international reaction in the English language press.

The events of last Saturday are broadly described as a consolidation of power by Nayib Bukele over the judicial branch resulting in the elimination of check and balances and breaching the separation of powers.

Bukele's Legislative Assembly Ousts Supreme Court Magistrates and Attorney General (El Faro, May 2, 2021)

A presidential power grab: El Salvador’s parliament sacks the country’s top judges (The Economist, May 6, 2021)

 El Salvador's parliament removes checks and balances on President Bukele's powers (Eddie Galdamez in Global Voices, May 5, 2021)

Many voices expressed concern that El Salvador was seeing an autocrat consolidate power.

This Is How a Republic Dies (El Faro, May 6, 2021)

Unless he’s stopped, El Salvador’s young president will turn into an old-school dictator: Opinion (Andres Oppenheimer in Miami Herald, May 5, 2021)

Threats to democracy increase as President Bukele moves to control El Salvador’s judiciary (Orlando J. Pérez, Randy Pestana in Global Americans, May 6, 2021)

Opinion: Will Nayib Bukele Be Latin America’s Next Strongman? ( Ioan Grillo in New York Times, May 5, 2021)

How would and should the US respond was the question being asked on the editorial pages of the Washington Post.

Opinion: The U.S. has a lot of leverage over El Salvador. It’s time to use it. (Washington Post, May 4, 2021)

Opinion: Democratic backsliding and unrest add to U.S. challenges in Latin America (Washington Post, May 6, 2021)


Bukele pushed back vigorously against his critics.

Bukele Responds to Avalanche of International Criticism: “The People Voted for This” (Gabriel Labrador and Julia Gavarrete, NACLA, May 7, 2021)

El Salvador Government Defiant After Ousting Judges (US News & World Report, May 7, 2021)


Bukele laid out his case to a private gathering of the diplomatic corps in El Salvador.   They were surprised when he broadcast the meeting to the nation the following evening.

Foreign envoys surprised after El Salvador's Bukele puts "private" meeting on TV (Reuters, May 5, 2021)

But the criticism of the Salvadoran president swayed few if any of his many supporters in the country.

Bukele’s Power Grab Is Alarming Everyone but Salvadorans (Frida Ghitis in World Politics Review, May 6, 2021)