Last week, as the number of COVID-19 cases in El Salvador climbed to at least 32, Salvadoran Congress approved a two-billion dollar loan for emergency government funding to combat the pandemic. Because Congress approved the funds during a state of emergency, the executive branch has more discretion in how the money is spent than it would under normal conditions. At the same time, government restrictions on freedom of the press have been ramped up, making it more difficult for journalists to obtain and share information. Salvadoran civil society is already monitoring these actions for potential corruption; however, the increased powers afforded to the executive branch – and increased restrictions on civil society – in the current crisis mean that now, more than ever, El Salvador must have effective anti-corruption mechanisms in place. The International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), established last year, should be playing a visible and vigilant role right now; in this article, DPLF outlines some of the major concerns about CICIES, its formation, and its current status, all of which may impede its ability to play such a role.
Leonor Arteaga and Amanda Eisenhour*
- Civil society has pushed the government of El Salvador to establish both symbolic and material reparations programs for war victims through executive decrees.
- These programs, while crucial first steps, have been plagued since their inception with chronic underfunding, ineffective and splintered bureaucracy, and the exclusion of victims.
- These programs could be at greater risk as the Bukele administration dissolves a key department implementing reparations, and the programs remain without legislative backing.
DPLF Team, with thanks to Ali Boyd for her assistance*
On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero became the most emblematic casualty of the brutal civil war in El Salvador, which would go on to last twelve years. As the culmination of a deliberate state plot, he was shot and killed while celebrating mass. More than 75,000 civilian victims would come to share the fate of the Archbishop of San Salvador during the course of the war. Though the conflict was then in its infancy, Romero unequivocally denounced the violence, prophetically speaking directly to the death squads and to government officials during his weekly homily less than 24 hours before he was killed. The murder of the beloved Archbishop has galvanized the Salvadoran people for the last four decades. And with the canonization of Oscar Romero in October of 2018, the fight for justice at home – in the domestic court system – has once again captured the headlines. Seguir leyendo