Nayib Bukele proposes reducing the number of mayors and deputies

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, presented on Thursday two proposals to reorganize the political division and reduce the number of mayoralties in the country from 262 to 44, as well as cut the number of seats in the unicameral Congress from 84 to 60.

“The municipalities will become districts, we will no longer have 262 mayors, nor 262 municipal councils, we will only have 44 mayors with their respective municipal councils,” said the president in his address to the nation for his fourth year in office.

“How is it possible that in a territory of 21,000 square kilometers we have 262 municipalities?”, said the president.

Bukele pointed out that the measure will reduce the tax burden and announced that the municipal rates will remain unchanged. He also stated that, with the change, the identities of the municipalities would not disappear, which would become districts.

“We are not proposing the dismissal of municipal employees either, those who leave are the positions of trust. The name of the municipalities will not change, they will continue to be districts and will be able to continue celebrating their festivals and traditions, ”he clarified.

Criticism against the initiative was not long in coming from legislators who described the proposal as an electoral ruse.

“The president changes the political distribution of the country for electoral purposes. Now the repeal of the electoral padlock, which prevented making changes in this matter less than a year before the 2024 elections, makes complete sense,” the parliamentary group of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) said on Twitter.

Bukele also presented a proposal to reduce the number of deputies in Congress from 84 to 60, “as it was before the farce called the Peace Accords” in 1992, he said.

“Now we come to correct that plan. Both proposals, and I hope this is the case, should be approved and underway before the 2024 elections, ”said the president to the applause of his supporters, who chanted“ re-election, re-election, re-election ”.

alfredo christiani

Bukele announced last September that he will register to participate in the next presidential elections in February 2024, the date on which the deputies of Congress will also be elected. Bukele also ratified his “declaration of war” against corruption and as a first step confirmed that the Prosecutor’s Office raided all the properties of former President Alfredo Cristiani, who ruled the country from 1989 to 1994.

In March 2022, a court in San Salvador issued an arrest warrant and provisional detention against Cristiani for the crime of “commission by omission” in the case of the murder of six Jesuit priests and their two collaborators, which was perpetrated by a unit army elite on November 16, 1989 at the facilities of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA).

Cristiani left the country in June 2021 after appearing before a special congressional commission investigating the bonuses of former government officials. When the judge’s decision was made known, her daughter Claudia published some photographs where her father appears and said then that he was in “grandfather’s cradle”, that is, Italy, although it is not clear if she is there.

The accusation against Cristiani and 12 other people occurred after the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice revoked in January 2022 a resolution of the Criminal Chamber, which ordered the closure of the judicial process on the grounds that the case had prescribed.

The Prosecutor’s Office argues that, in his capacity as General Commander of the Armed Forces and according to the military chain of command, Cristiani had the ability to make the final decision regarding the execution of the military operation that resulted in the death of the priests.

The attorney general, Rodolfo Delgado, reported that with the support of the National Civil Police, groups of prosecutors traveled to different parts of the country to begin the process of forfeiture of 156 properties belonging to the ex-president accused of enriching himself through the coffers of the State.

He detailed to the journalists that they were intervening 143 properties of the Cristiani Burkard company, seven properties of the Santa Lucía Drug Store, six properties of the Montebro Company, 15 bank accounts and 42 vehicles.

Delgado assured that Cristiani “enriched himself with public money” and explained that he had reactivated an investigation that had been abandoned and archived by the previous attorney generals.

“We are intervening the properties, but I am going to make sure that the investigations of a criminal nature continue. We are going to go after those financial institutions that recently released funds to Alfredo Cristiani,” he warned.


Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the lifting of the state of emergency in El Salvador and expressed concern over the repeated extension of a measure that “eliminates the right to a fair trial.”

“We recognize the complex challenge that El Salvador faces to deal with crime,” declared Marta Hurtado, spokesperson for the international organization, at a press conference in Geneva, the organization’s headquarters.

“However, undermining the rule of law and the integrity of the legal system by derogating from the right to a fair trial is not the answer,” he added.

El Salvador proclaimed the emergency regime on March 27, 2022 in response to a wave of 87 murders in a few days. Since then, at least 68,000 suspected gang members have been detained without an arrest warrant, according to the UN.

The crusade against the gangs, which controlled 80% of the territory according to the government, has the support of nine out of ten Salvadorans, the surveys highlight.

But both human rights organizations and the Catholic Church have criticized the methods used by the Central American president, Nayib Bukele.

The Office of the High Commissioner denounced that among the detainees there are at least 1,600 minors and cited the report of an NGO that indicates that at least 153 inmates have died in prison since the implementation of the state of emergency.

“We ask the authorities to lift the state of emergency and review the measures they have introduced,” the spokeswoman urged.

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