Showing posts from August, 2021

Politicians like Bukele still negotiate with gangs, and then deny it

Last week, El Faro published a  new report  providing evidence of negotiations between high level members of the government of Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele and imprisoned leaders of the country's major street gangs. In an 8500 word by-lined investigation, the El Faro team disclosed new information about negotiations occurring during 2019-2020 which El Faro had first disclosed in September 2020.  The new information, gathered from an investigation by the office of El Salvador's recently deposed attorney general, included: Evidence that the government had negotiated not just with MS-13, but also with the two factions of Barrio-18. Documentation, including several photos, of Director of Prisons Osiris Luna and other government officials, including Carlos Marroquin, Director of "Reconstruction of the Fabric of Society", entering the prisons accompanied by gang members.  The role of these outside gang members was presumably to take information and instructions betw

Should Bukele's government, which flouts the constitution, be allowed to overhaul it?

My most recent post described the newly-released draft of a proposed overhaul to the constitution of El Salvador prepared by the so-called Ad Hoc Group led by Vice President Felix Ulloa .   In that post I highlighted a variety of proposals in the area of individual human rights which made progressive changes in the list of protected interests, from LGBTQ rights to the human right to water, which are absent in the current 1983 constitution. But this list of rights can only be meaningful and enforceable if there is a true separation of powers with independent institutions and, especially, a strong and independent judiciary.   Since Nayib Bukele’s ascension into the presidency, however, there has been a continual assault on the judicial system and the independence of those other branches of the government which could act as a check on a president’s powers. So when a commission backed by Nayib Bukele proposes an extensive revision of El Salvador's constitution, serious doubts mus

Proposed constitutional changes in El Salvador

For months now, a special committee in El Salvador led by vice president Felix Ulloa has been working on drafting a set of reforms to the country's constitution.   The meetings have been held behind closed doors, and although some details had been leaking out, much was unknown about what would be proposed.  The completed draft of the proposed reforms to the constitution are now public.  The changes are sweeping, with revisions, deletions or replacements of some 215 articles of the 274-article constitution.   While there is much to study in the proposal, and I do not purport to have had the chance to review the document fully, at this point I can say that many changes are remarkably progressive.   If the proposal were to be adopted and the courts and government were to fully implement and respect the rights created by this document, it would be a positive step forward for the country. (That's a big "if"). (For those wishing to study the proposed reforms in detail, you

El Salvador Bitcoin news roundup

With less than a month until El Salvador's new Bitcoin law goes into effect, few additional details have been released from the Bukele administration about its implementation.  The law envisioned regulations being developed, but no regulations have been released.  The mechanisms for funding a trust fund which would purchase Bitcoin from any merchant who does not want to receive and keep Bitcoin in a transaction are unclear.   It could also be that Bitcoin is not the end goal for the Bukele government.   A report in El Faro titled  Bukele's Plan — Launching National Cryptocurrency by Year's End  includes video and materials from meetings among Nayib Bukele's brothers and crypto-currency entrepreneurs discussing the potential of launching El Salvador's own crypto-currency, the "Colon-dollar." The Salvadoran government has said that there are currently no plans to move forward with its own digital currency. Most reporting about the upcoming implementation of

The lawyer for Alba Petroleum who is now El Salvador's Attorney General

According to new reporting, Rodolfo Delgado, the Attorney General put in place when the current Bukele-controlled congress deposed the old Attorney General on May 1, was an employee of Alba Petróleos in 2019. As described in the  article at by journalist  Hector Silva Avalos , Delgado was paid more than $46,000 by Alba, a company which is part of Venezuelan state oil conglomerate PDVSA being investigated for money laundering by the US and by El Salvador (at least until the prior Attorney General was fired). For years, there have been calls for investigations of Alba. Alba, which is closely linked to the left wing FMLN party, has been tied to laundering millions of dollars coming out of Venezuela.  From InsightCrime : Since Alba Petróleos was founded, it has been under the control of José Luis Merino, known as "Ramiro Vásquez", a former FMLN guerrilla captain, who later became a federal deputy and government official.  Over the past decade, Merino has been scrutin