ACTION ALERT: Tell the State Department to respect El Salvador's right to self-governance!

Jean Manes, the new US Ambassador to El Salvador, was denounced by the FMLN for calling legislators to pressure them on how to vote on items on the legislative agenda. (Photo: US Embassy in San Salvador)

On Monday, a delegation of Salvadoran legislators from the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party arrived in Washington D.C. to speak with Members of Congress about the new US Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes’ political intervention in their domestic democratic affairs. Their message was clear: the US Ambassador has not only overstepped diplomatic protocol in violation of El Salvador’s national sovereignty, but her actions are contributing to right-wing destabilization efforts in the country.

Call the State Department today to halt Ambassador Manes’ interventionist practices immediately! (see script below)

Background: Two weeks ago, FMLN legislator Roger Blandino Nerio made a public denouncement to the Salvadoran press that Ambassador Manes was making individual phone calls to Salvadoran legislators to tell them how to vote on a matter before the legislative assembly: whether to consider removing the Salvadoran Ambassador to Germany’s diplomatic immunity so he can be investigated in a weapons trafficking case. According to the FMLN and Christian Democrat Party (PDC), the Attorney General had not provided sufficient evidence to the legislature to pursue removing his diplomatic immunity; however, the US Ambassador aggressively pursued legislators to change their positions in order for the removal of immunity to proceed. (Read more about the case and the US Ambassador's political motivations here).

Blandino Nerio told journalists the US Ambassador’s phone calls were “an absurdity, a disrespectful interference in the country’s affairs.” Please join Blandino Nerio and CISPES in sending a strong message that the United States and its officials must respect El Salvador’s sovereign democratic institutions.

The US Ambassador’s interference in domestic affairs is undermining the state institutions the Embassy claims to want to help strengthen. According to the leader of the FMLN legislative group Norma Guevara, “Our actions as legislators should respond to our sovereign mandate [from the electorate] and to our laws; and legislative decisions should not be motivated by nor should they come from external pressures.”

Call the El Salvador desk at the US State Department today and tell them that US diplomacy must respect other countries’ right to self-governance.

Dial (202) 647-4161 and ask to speak with the El Salvador Desk Officer. If you get voicemail, leave a message. Please email [email protected] after you call to let us know how it went and so we can track how many calls they are receiving.

Sample Script for Your Call

Hello. My name is _____ and I am calling about the Ambassadors recent phone calls to legislators about General Benitez’ diplomatic immunity. I think it is outrageous that Ambassador Manes is interfering in El Salvador’s sovereign legislative processes. The people of El Salvador have made incredible sacrifices to build a real democracy in their country. El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly and the legislators that serve in it should respond to their constituents and their laws – NOT FOREIGN INTERESTS.

Just because the United States government provides aid to El Salvador, that does not give it the right to tell the Salvadoran government what to do. If the State Department really wants to demonstrate its support for El Salvador’s democratic institutions and the rule of law, it should first ensure that its own functionaries in the country don’t violate the Salvadoran Constitution or the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – both of which prohibit them from interfering in the State’s internal affairs.

I am calling on the State Department to immediately instruct Ambassador Jean Manes and all other Embassy staff to cease interference in the sovereign decision making of the Legislative Assembly and all other branches and agencies of the Salvadoran government.

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