Nayib Bukele is the most popular leader in Latin America
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has been criticized for his lack of due process and possible violations of human rights. Nevertheless, he supports his decisions as it has decreased crime in the country. AFP

Members of Congress led by Rep. Ihan Omar submitted a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Wednesday, urging the Biden Administration to address "ongoing threats to democracy and human rights" in El Salvador. The letter comes just days before the presidential elections in El Salvador.

The letter describes unlawful arrests and detention, harassment of political opponents and restriction on press freedoms as the representatives' main concerns for El Salvador.

"President Bukele has also, during his first term, overseen the militarized harassment of the legislature, a significant erosion of judicial independence, and the de facto criminalization of civil society," the members wrote.

The lawmakers also added that it is not the place of the U.S. government to determine who is eligible to run for President in another country, nor pick the winner. But nevertheless, they are worried about what the public message of the State Department will be if they show support for President Bukele's re-election bid.

In El Salvador, it was unconstitutional for a President to serve consecutive terms. That was until judges appointed by lawmakers in Bukele's party decided to change that law, allowing the incumbent to run for office again.

The Representatives affirm that this was "a move strongly criticized by the United States."

Not long after the letter was issued, President Bukele took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his beliefs on the Representatives' request.

"We are honored to receive your attacks, just days before our election," Bukele said sarcastically. "I would be very worried if we had your support. Thank you."

"I think the United States should have free and fair elections," Bukele added in a separate message.

In the letter, the Representatives made four requests to the Biden Administration.

First, they urged the administration to send a message to the Salvadoran government on the importance of respecting constitutional and democratic norms.

Second, to publicly denounce the human rights violations, such as the unlawful killings, forced disappearances and torture, carried out by the Salvadoran government.

Third, they requested to establish mechanisms to directly fund Salvadoran civil society and Salvadoran non-governmental partners.

Finally, they asked for the security assistance and further support for the Salvadoran police and military.

The U.S. representatives have not been the only ones to criticize Bukele's time in office. Human rights organizations in El Salvador and abroad have called out the president for his lack of due process and other abuses. However, a drop in homicides has cemented support for the President, whose party is called "Nuevas Ideas" or "New Ideas." He is set to win the elections by a landslide.

In addition to that, Bukele has also declared El Salvador as the safest country in Latin America, just a few years after it was listed as one of the world's deadliest.

Bukele has not backed down from his course of actions. In 2023, he gave a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he pushed back against critics.

"Today, I come to tell you that that debate is over," Bukele said at the U.N. "The decisions we took were correct. We are no longer the world death capital and we achieved it in record time. Today we are a model of security and no one can doubt it. There are the results. They are irrefutable."

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