Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Is El Salvador’s Bukele Undermining the Rule of Law?

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party this month ousted the attorney general and the five magistrates of the constitutional chamber of the country's Supreme Court. // File Photo: Salvadoran Government.

El Salvador’s new Legislative Assembly, controlled by the New Ideas party of President Nayib Bukele, in its first session on May 1 voted to remove the five magistrates of the constitutional chamber of the country’s Supreme Court. Hours later, it voted to fire the attorney general. The international community—including U.S. administration officials and legislators, the U.N. human rights chief and the Organization of American States—quickly blasted the moves as an attempt by Bukele to control the country’s institutions. What are the most important consequences of the Legislative Assembly’s sacking of the Constitutional Court magistrates? Will Bukele’s moves, which some consider to be undermining the rule of law, significantly affect the country’s business environment, or are the president’s pro-business policies enough to retain and attract investments? What explains the contrast between sharp criticism of Bukele abroad and his high popularity at home?


Ernesto Muyshondt, former mayor of San Salvador: “El Salvador has been suffering a spectacular democratic and institutional regression since well before the past legislative and municipal elections. The use of government resources and institutions for electoral purposes was coarse and shameless; not only to promote official candidates, but also to harass and even persecute political opponents (even using the police and army for political purposes). That was the main reason why Bukele won a majority in Congress and municipal governments. The illegal and unconstitutional removal of constitutional magistrates and the attorney general were the first moves in a series of atrocities, such as a law to shield corrupt actions and purchases by government officials during the pandemic. The clear undermining of the rule of law, as well as the flagrant…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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