US can no longer ‘use ‘democracy’ as foreign policy’

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said on Tuesday that the impeachment of former US President Donald Trump meant the US’s ability to pressure other countries to improve their own democracies had ” gone “.

Bukele, who enjoyed friendly relations with Trump during the latter’s presidency that fell apart under leftist successor Joe Biden, has always condemned the actions of US law enforcement against Trump, calling them attempts to persecute and to wipe out Biden’s main political rival ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Trump was arrested Tuesday in Manhattan for falsifying business documents. The 34 counts he faces, all related to alleged payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, could result in a maximum sentence of 136 years in prison for Trump, although the most likely scenario, s ‘he is found guilty, would be closer to four years. .

Speaking Tuesday night after his arrest and impeachment, Trump denied the charges and accused indicting prosecutor Alvin Bragg of “massive election interference on a scale never before seen in our country.” .

Trump calls Alvin Bragg a ‘CRIMINAL’ for illegal leaks: ‘He should be prosecuted’

Trump is officially a candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

“They can’t beat us at the polls, so they try to beat us through the law,” Trump said.

Bukele, communicating via Twitter, his favorite social media outlet, described the arrest as a case of the US powers that be silencing an opposition leader.

“Think what you will about former President Trump and why he is being charged,” he wrote. “But imagine if that happened in another country, where a government arrested the main opposition candidate.”

Bukele said America’s “ability to use ‘democracy’ as foreign policy is gone.”

Arrests and imprisonment of former presidents in Latin America are extremely common. Brazil’s current president, left-wing extremist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was convicted and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in 2017 for accepting bribes while president (the the country’s Supreme Court freed him on a technicality and allowed him to stand for re-election last year). In Bolivia, conservative interim president Jeanine Áñez, who took over after socialist Evo Morales fled the country, has been in jail for more than a year simply for assuming the presidency in line with the constitutional line of succession.

Peru has arrested and/or imprisoned at least three recent presidents: leftist Ollanta Humala, conservative Alberto Fujimori (who is currently in jail) and ideologically fluid Alan Garcia, who killed himself before police arrived. to arrest him for corruption in 2019. In 2017, long-imprisoned Fujimori reportedly greeted Humala in jail with homemade sandwiches.

Bukele has repeatedly argued that America’s political influence abroad has eroded under Biden, using Trump’s legal treatment as an example. Last week, shortly after Trump announced he had reason to believe he would be arrested, Bukele wrote: “It will be very difficult for American foreign policy to use arguments such as ‘democracy’. and “free and fair elections”…from now on. on.”

Similarly, following the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in August, Bukele asked, “What would the US government say if OUR police raided the home of one of the leading candidates? possible in OUR presidential election of 2024?

Bukele’s relationship with the Biden administration has soured rapidly as the State Department responded with concern and condemnation to the Salvadoran president’s declaration of a “state of exception” last year freezing some civil liberties, mainly freedom of assembly, to eradicate the most powerful gangs in the country. The state of exception has allowed the arrest of tens of thousands of suspected gang members; Bukele launched a new 40,000-person “mega-prison” in February to allow the country to house all new prisoners.

That same month, Faroa Salvadoran newspaper that has strongly criticized Bukele in the past, published a detailed report claiming that the state of emergency had largely destroyed the presence of gangs in the country, allowing civilians to run businesses without extortion and families use public parks safely.

“Gangs don’t exist right now because El Salvador knew about them for decades,” Faro reported.

Although hugely popular in the country, the state of emergency has drawn condemnation from the State Department because it technically freezes the constitutional rights of Salvadorans on a monthly basis and Bukele has indicated no end in sight. The State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world, released on March 20 but covering 2022, accused the Salvadoran government of:

unlawful or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; serious problems of independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on freedom of expression and the media, including censorship and threats to use criminal laws to limit expression; serious government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence; significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services; and crimes involving violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people.

Last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration was “concerned” about Bukele’s policies, particularly a law that limited the press’s ability to report on certain gang activity.

“The law lends itself to attempts to censor the media, prevent reporting on corruption and other matters of public interest, and silence critics of the Salvadoran government,” Blinken said.
That month, Bukele responded to comments from Blinken and the State Department claiming support for El Salvador’s anti-gang efforts, retorting that the country had only received support under Trump.

“You’re just supporting gangs and their ‘civil liberties’ now,” Bukele said at the time.

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