Every one of the 5 top Supreme Court justices in El Salvador was fired and replaced on Saturday, according to a report by Breitbart News.
The Central American country removed the high ranking officials after their legislative assembly voted to dismiss the justices with a majority vote dominated by those loyal to El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele
The country’s Supreme Court is made up of 15-members in all, with it’s constitutional chamber considered the most powerful and one of the last things holding Bukele back from complete authority.
“The motion to remove the judges passed with 64 votes in favor, or nearly 80 percent of the 84-seat legislature,” Reuters reported. All votes came from President Bukele’s populist ruling party, Nuevas Ideas (“New Ideas”), according to the Argentine news site Infobae.
Just one day after the shocking decision, El Salvador’s congress made another vote to remove the nation’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Raul Melara, citing the allegation that he had ties to the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), which is a conservative opposition party.
“The unprecedented congressional vote came on the first day that lawmakers from Bukele’s New Ideas party took firm control of Congress after midterm elections in February gave the party a more than two-thirds supermajority in the unicameral legislature,” Reuters noted on May 1.
“And the Salvadoran people, through their representatives, said FIRED,” Bukele wrote in a Twitter statement on May 1, emphasizing the sentiment with applause emojis.
These changes are not something that the United States considers to be wise ones. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “grave concern” about the decisions on Sunday:
“[A]n independent judiciary is essential to democratic governance,” Blinken noted in his call, according to an official readout. “He expressed equal concern regarding the removal of Attorney General Raul Melara, who is fighting corruption and impunity and is an effective partner of efforts to combat crime in both the United States and El Salvador.”