- Bukele's government recognizes the legitimacy of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
- Since Bukele came to power, relations between San Salvador and Washington have tightened and the two countries have signed a migration agreement.
- Caracas also gave Salvadorian diplomats 48 hours to leave Venezuela.
El Salvador’s President, Nayib Bukele, has ordered that all Venezuelan diplomats appointed by President Nicolas Maduro must leave the country within two days. Bukele argues the decision is in line with the position of the current Salvadorian government, which does not recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s regime.
Bukele stated that El Salvador had ordered the diplomatic staff from the regime of Nicolas Maduro to leave the country within 48 hours, in a statement posted on his Twitter account late Saturday. According to the text, the decision also follows a resolution adopted by El Salvador and 20 other member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) on August 28, condemning “the serious and systematic violations of human rights in Venezuela.”
The statement asserts that Bukele’s government recognizes the legitimacy of Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, “until free elections are held in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution.” Bukele added, “in the near future, the Salvadoran government looks forward to receiving the credentials of Venezuela’s new diplomatic representation.” El Salvador “will always be in favor of democracy and defend of human rights,” Bukele said.
Bukele took office in June this year after being elected president of the country by the Great Alliance for National Unity, a party that defines itself as conservative and right-wing. Even before taking office, he said he intended to maintain a “distant” relationship with Caracas and to establish strong ties with the United States, which has repeatedly argued that Maduro is an illegitimate president of Venezuela and ought to be ousted from power.
US Ambassador to San Salvador, Ronald Johnson, was quick to welcome the decision of the Salvadoran government. “We applaud the government of President Nayib Bukele for ensuring that El Salvador is on the right side of history, recognizing Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela,” the diplomat wrote in a Twitter message. Johnson further stated that “the Venezuelan people have the right to elect a president and government who work for the welfare of their people, rather than serving personal interests.”
Since Bukele came to power, relations between San Salvador and Washington have tightened and the two countries have signed a migration agreement. Last week, the US government also announced the extension, for another year, of temporary protections for thousands of Salvadoran citizens living in the country.
Bukele, on the other hand, has been strongly criticized for his position on Venezuela by the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Party (FMLN), which ruled the country between 2009 and 2019. The FMLN maintained a close relationship with Maduro, particularly under the government of former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2014-2019).
More than 50 countries, including the United States and Brazil, have refused to recognize Maduro and have recognized Guaidó, who is head of the Venezuelan parliament, as the country’s interim president. However, in a quick rejoinder, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela also released a statement on Sunday in which it declared each of the Salvadoran diplomatic staff in Caracas unwanted persons and equally accorded them 48 hours to vacate the country.
Maduro’s government, aside from being termed illegitimate, is equally accused of unjustified arrests and torture of opponents as it struggles to hold on to power amid its ailing economy. The Maduro-led administration however still enjoys full support from China and Russia.