On February 6, Ambassador of the United States Jean Manes, Ambassador of the United Kingdom Bernhard Garside, and Ambassador of the European Union in El Salvador Andreu Bassols discussed El Salvador’s democracy and prospects for institutional development on a popular national radio show hosted by Pencho Duque and Aída Farrar.
The three chiefs of mission were invited to share their assessments as international observers of the February 3 Presidential election.
Ambassador Manes said that Embassy of the United States fielded a group of observers in coordination with the Organization of American States (OAS) and characterized the election as transparent and fair, an assessment shared by the other two chiefs of mission.
“That speaks well of Salvadorans, and it’s a good example for countries of the region that have elections this year,” Ambassador Manes said. “It was an inspiration to see Salvadorans come out and vote.”
Asked about next steps now that the Presidential campaign is over, Ambassador Manes said, “President-Elect Nayib Bukele should surround himself with people who know how to govern. Also something that still is pending is the Public Administration Law, an important tool to assure that public officials carry out their functions and are responsible for their actions.”
Asked about proposals for a new commission against impunity to investigate past crimes in El Salvador, Ambassador Manes said that a commission is one way to fight corruption; however, there are other institutions already doing that work Salvadoran citizens will have the last word in deciding how to confront the issue, either with current institutions, a new international commission, or a combination of both.
The Ambassador of the United Kingdom in El Salvador, Bernhard Garside, addressed the importance of combating corruption: “The fight against corruption is something that we are supporting; it is important not only for this country but for the region. Corruption is something that will stop business development and progress in any country.”
The Ambassador of the European Union, Andreu Bassols, agreed, adding, “The country will need national consensus to establish a public administration law, an electoral law, a law against corruption. All of this needs national consensus and an improvement of taxation in the country.
The United States has provided $8.5 million in assistance over the last five years to support free and fair elections in El Salvador. For the 2019 Presidential election, assistance from USAID helped train approximately 80,000 poll workers with new didactic material and software tools; enabled the electoral authority to conduct, for the first time in decades, its own transmission system of preliminary results; and helped deploy more than 1,800 domestic observers during Election Day in alliance with Salvadoran universities and local NGOs.