Bukele assumed the presidency in 2019 promising to rescue El Salvador from deep divisions caused by rampant gang violence and systemic corruption in both right and left governments following the end of the civil war in 1992. .
It remains popular in the country thanks to a sharp reduction in one of the highest murder rates in the world. But in Washington, he has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans for applying strategies like the one he took in February, surrounding Congress with heavily armed troops in order to pressure legislators to approve a loan to finance the fight against The gang.
Mayorga said the traditional parties that have dominated El Salvador’s Congress have gone to great lengths to try to portray Bukele as an autocrat. But he affirmed that many of the president’s initiatives, such as inviting the OAS to head a commission to investigate bribes, are in line with the indications in the US Congress on the fight against corruption.
“Now is when support is most needed,” said Mayorga, a popular former television host who, as a legislator, broke with her conservative-extraction ARENA party to back Bukele.
The Bukele administration tried to improve its image in Washington, for which it hired the lobbying of three firms in the US capital at a total cost of more than $ 1.6 million since August.
The partial ban, which was promoted by Democratic Rep. Norma Torres, the only Central American immigrant in Congress, was adopted by the Senate in the federal spending bill sent to the president this month.
The spending plan also includes a clause that threatens to apply specific sanctions to government officials in the Northern Triangle countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – who are deemed to have undermined democratic institutions. It requires the president to present a public list of corrupt individuals within the next 180 days. That is expected to include some of the most powerful politicians in the region, some of whom have been suspected for years of ties to drug traffickers.
In recent years, foreign aid to Central America has been subject to much haggling. In 2019, Trump suspended support for several countries due to the continuous flow of migrants from the region.
Bukele got aid to resume by signing an agreement allowing the United States to send asylum seekers from other countries to El Salvador, setting the stage for a time of close cooperation with the Trump administration. But even Trump officials quietly expressed concern in May that Bukele’s defiance of Congress and El Salvador’s Supreme Court put her eligibility for poverty assistance at risk.
President-elect Joe Biden considers Central America one of his foreign policy priorities in the Western Hemisphere, and it is unknown whether he will back the decision to reduce military aid to the Northern Triangle. When he was vice president, he strongly promoted a $ 750 million package for the region to combat the underlying causes of migration – poverty and violence – and has promised that as president he will increase that aid to $ 4 billion.
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