Rebel from Twitter: as the leader of El Salvador is struggling with the pandemic

Бунтарь из твиттера: как лидер Сальвадора борется с пандемиейPandemic coronavirus feel the strength of most world leaders, improving or worsening their position depending on the success of the measures taken to combat the epidemic. However, in some States the situation is quite ambiguous. One such country was El Salvador, which is run by 38-year-old President Najib Boekel. To save the country from the virus, the young politician is forced to enter into a confrontation with the Parliament, Supreme court and even the Constitution. Supported in this opposition he was getting from the military and social networks.

President of El Salvador Najib Boekel said about the renewal of the restrictive measures imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus, until June 6. His decision, he explained that the infected curve continues to go up, so the inhabitants of the Republic should stay home.

This step became the next pretext for criticism of the head of a small Republic in Central America, one of the first moved to the quarantine regime. According to the decision of Boekel, Salvador was closed from the other States in March when in the country there was not a single case of coronavirus.

Since then the situation has changed, according to the latest data, in the Republic of such cases more than 1.7 million, including 33 fatal. However, probably, the haste was not in vain, if you look at the statistics of the neighbouring countries Guatemala and Honduras. So, the number of cases is 2.7 thousand and 3.4 thousand, deceased, at 51 and 167, respectively.

In such circumstances, the inhabitants of El Salvador are often Boekel thank for his decisive action in the framework of a pandemic.

According to the may survey of the research center of UFG, almost 80% of Salvadorans approved of the President’s reaction to the coronavirus. Citizens of El Salvador praised the actions of the President on the fight against the pandemic by 8.7 points on a scale from 1 to 10.

However, plenty disagree with the policy Boekel. Basically, they are supporters of the former ruling parties — the national liberation Front named after Farabundo Marti (FMLN) and Nationalist Republican Alliance. They hold a majority in the legislative Assembly of El Salvador and are in opposition to the President.

The government Boekel is in the minority and consists of deputies from the “General Alliance for national unity”, as well as parliamentarians from “Democratic change” — the party was officially disbanded by the Supreme court of the Republic, but after the parliamentary elections.

The legislative struggle

In such circumstances the President faced formidable opposition in the legislative Assembly. In particular, even his decree on the extension of the quarantine until June 6, was rejected by a majority of deputies and sent to the Supreme court. The court, in turn, acknowledged the lack of authority from Boekel to extend the restrictive measures and called on the President and parliamentarians to begin work on the opening of the country.

Opposition MPs wanted to go further, designing a bill for the immediate removal of the quarantine measures, but the head of state announced that the initiative will never become law.

“This bill will lead to mass infection of Salvadorans. Thank God I can use a veto,” wrote Twitter in Boekel.

In the fight with the legislature, the President uses all means. For example, in February, he broke into the Parliament together with the military to win approval financial loan in the amount of $109 million on improving equipping the police and soldiers.

This quite naturally caused a negative reaction from the opposition, which accused Boekel intimidation of deputies and the attempted return of the Republic in the era of “political violence”. The Supreme court tried to resolve the conflict, forbidding the President to convene the Parliament for further discussion of the loan.

At the same time, rivals Boekel tried to attract the attention of the international community to address the “institutional crisis”, but the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) not to interfere in the internal Affairs of the Republic.

The crisis in relations between the opposition and President partially disappeared in the first months of the pandemic, but eventually again resumed on the background of the gradual improvement of the situation in the world.

However, the desire of the opposition to go to the opening of El Salvador is unlikely to be fulfilled. And it is not only the right of the President to veto, which said Boekel. Under quarantine, the head of state brought to the streets of the country’s military to control, introducing fines for all violators of the isolation mode. And although the Supreme court acknowledged that the decision “unconstitutional”, Boekel simply ignored — the military remained in their places.

“Five people will not make decisions about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans. It’s one thing to interpret the Constitution, but quite another to give orders about the death of people,” wrote the Salvadoran leader on Twitter.

The candidate-the outsider?

By the way, the reaction of the President of the Republic on the events in the country in social networks is quite regular. Boekel actively use social networks since his presidential campaign, only in Twitter, the head of state almost 2 million subscribers.

Following the trend of “Twitter diplomacy”, initiated by the President of the United States Donald trump, the many important policy decisions reported in the social networks.

Even his first speech at the UN GA session Boekel started with a selfie, saying it will attract more attention than his whole speech.

From the point of view of analysts, the presence of the politician in social networks in part helped him win a presidential election last year.

In General, his path to the seat of the head of state was quite unusual. During the election campaign, local media often called Boekel candidate-an outsider. In this respect he is reminiscent of President Vladimir Zelensky.

However, unlike their Ukrainian colleagues, Boekel his political career began in 2012, becoming the mayor of Nuevo cuscatlán, winning election as the candidate of the FMLN, and three years later Boekel held a post of the mayor already the country’s capital San Salvador.

However, by 2017, his political career made a somersault, he lost his place in the party for “the promotion of domestic separation” and “defamatory statements”.

The problem was that Boekel began to actively criticize the policies of Salvador Sanchez Serena the then President elected from the FMLN.

After his expulsion from the party politician decided to take part in the next presidential elections as an independent candidate and opponent of the current political system. In order to avoid the extension from the traditional parties, Boekel decided to start his, but was not able to register it.

His attempt was blocked by the FMLN along with the Nationalist Republican Alliance, they tried not to allow the candidate to be nominated by any other party. For example, a number of analysts argues that the Salvadoran Tribunal dissolved the party “Democratic change” due to the fact that it was entered by Boekel.

However, in the end the solution was found just six months before the election, they became a “Grand Alliance for national unity”. In this case, along with Boekel the party moved to the part of the deputies of the FMLN, who supported the policy.


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