U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) said today that he is concerned about the rule of law and institutional crisis in El Salvador and called on the Obama Administration to examine if the country still meets criteria for receiving funds from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The administration of President Mauricio Funes of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) appointed judges to El Salvador's Supreme Court before the new National Assembly took office in May. The nine-member court ruled that move unconstitutional, along with another set of appointments dating back to 2006. Rather than accept this verdict, the Salvadoran Assembly appealed to the regional Central American Court of Justice, which is controlled by Nicaragua's appointees. Though it has no authority to decide Salvadoran constitutional questions, that tribunal ruled in the FMLN's favor -- creating an impasse in which two rival sets of judges in El Salvador now compete for legitimacy.
"The unconstitutional installation of members of the judiciary is identical in its gravity with the illegal removal of the leading officials of any branch of the government. After recent political crisis' in Honduras and Nicaragua that forced the suspension of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funds to those countries, I am surprised to learn that the government in El Salvador would be willing to go down the same path. I have expressed my concern to the State Department, and have asked them to closely examine if El Salvador still meets MCC obligations under US law," Lugar said.