Press release: Right-wing protesters use violence to escalate conflict between Supreme Court and Legislative Assembly
Contact: Alexis Stoumbelis, CISPES (978) 394-0425 Right-wing protestors intensified the conflict between the legislative and judicial branches of the Salvadora government, attacking the protesters at a counter march outside the Legislative Assembly on July 12. Members of the "White March" threw rocks and launches tear gas canisters at a peaceful group of counter-protestors from the social movement. Emergency responders reported that two people were injured and at least fourteen people were affected by tear gas. The White March was organized by the right-wing in order to criticize the representatives from the FMLN, GANA, and other political parties who have opposed the controversial decisions of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court, which recently invalidated the election of ten Supreme Court magistrates and ordered the Legislative Assembly to hold new elections. All political parties, with the exception of the right-wing ARENA party and the sole representative of the CD part, voted to reject the court's decision, which favors the ARENA party. In the current legislative session, ARENA has recuperated more seats and could therefore wield the influence over the elections of the magistrates. Representatives of the social movement and the unions marched to support the position of the deputies regarding to the Supreme Court's decision. "We demand that the Constitutional Chamber respond to all of us, not just to the interests of a small group of people," explained Osmin Salinas, a representative of a campesino organization in Aguijares. Members of the social movement report that the White March was organized by the country's elite and by the private sector, which mobilized thousands of people in buses, offering them white t-shirts, flags, and, according to many reports, money. Marielos Pleitez, representative of the SITHBLOOM hospital workers' union and the Coalition for a Safe Country without Hunger (CONPHAS) said: “It's really a shame that the right-wing and the National Private Business Association [ANEP] are using people, because they've brought them here under false pretenses. People are saying that private companies have brought a lot of people who they paid $25 dollars to come. It's terrible that they would be taking advantage of people's hunger like this." International organizations have denounced the violence as a destabilization tactic and an attempt to aggravate the conflict in order to obscure the national debate and marginalize the voices of opposition. Alexis Stoumbelis, director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador in Washington, DC added: “Given the context of recent coups against leftist governments in the region, we are very concerned by the right-wing's provocations."