In a bid to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, El Salvador’s government on May 19 extended a strict lockdown until June 6. The extension comes after President Nayib Bukele threatened to veto a law passed by Congress aimed at accelerating the reopening of the country’s economy prior to the date.
While speaking to an international media outlet, the legal minister to the president, Conan Castro said that the order was in line with Bukele’s plan to gradually reopen the economy only after another phase of strict quarantine measures to contain the virus. Castro reportedly said that curve has not started to fall, the curve is still rising, and the country needs to stay indoors as that is the only manner known around the world to contain the pandemic.
Meanwhile, El Salvador President has spent past few days scrapping with Congress over who should dictate the terms of the lockdown. According to an international media outlet, the recent extension rule was passed overnight by Congress and it sets out measures for a gradual return to normal in the country. As per the earlier plan, the extension was to take effect days after its promulgation, however, Bukele argued that it was too risky to re-open the Central American country too soon. Bukele also reportedly added that re-opening could also lead to a massive contagion of Salvadorans.
Currently, the Central American country has more than 1,400 confirmed coronavirus cases and the deadly virus has claimed nearly 30 lives in the region. Bukele has reportedly imposed some of the toughest measures, including closing the country’s border, imposing a national quarantine and dispatching police and the army to detain violators. While the country has so far been successful in containing the virus, several citizens and human rights advocates have reportedly complained that the 38-year-old leader has ignored the country’s constitution and rulings by its supreme court.
According to an international media outlet, the country has around 90 rented hotels, convention centres and gymnasiums hastily converted to police guarded shelters. Thousands of Salvadorans have been detained for than a month at a time without judicial review. While some were swept off the street as they went to buy food for their families, others had the bad to be travelling outside the nation when the president imposed the quarantine. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the detentions are unconstitutional since no law authorizes them, however, Bukele has ignored the order and accused critics of seeking the deaths of thousands of Salvadorans.