President Biden’s State Department derailed negotiations with El Salvador’s government on the migrant crisis by suggesting the country’s popular president is an authoritarian.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele this week refused to meet with Biden’s special envoy for the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zúñiga, over what he described as personal affronts from Democrats and the United States administration, including calling him a dictator, two aides of the Central American leader told the Associated Press (AP).
The Northern Triangle is a Central American region that covers El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
The Salvadoran president told his aides “that he won’t meet with any Biden officials until the U.S. softens criticism raising doubts about his commitment to democracy and the rule of law, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the diplomatic sensitivities,” AP noted.
Specifically, the two said comments made by State Department Spokesman Ned Price on Monday angered Bukele.
Echoing some Democrats who advised Biden not to meet with Bukele, Price declared:
We’ll also focus on preserving democratic standards, and we look forward to President Bukele to restore strong separation of powers where they’ve been eroded and demonstrate his government’s commitment to transparency and accountability to the people of El Salvador. We’ll continue to emphasize to political leaders the importance of appropriate democratic institutions as we partner with them.
Price also hinted the U.S. will work with local left-wing groups to pressure Bukele.
“Of course, we’ll also engage with civil society groups and to promote freedom of expression and, independent media, and the protection of journalists,” he noted. “Our goal in all of this is to create the conditions where the people of El Salvador can live healthy, successful lives and to thrive.”
Some of the so-called independent media in El Salvador is linked to the two establishment political parties that ruled El Salvador for decades before Bukele took office.
The Salvadoran press office and the country’s embassy in the U.S. capital did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment.
To the dismay of Democrats and their corporate media allies, Bukele enjoys a healthy approval rating of around 90 percent, namely for his fight against corrupt members of the two-party system that plagued El Salvador for decades.
AP acknowledged Bukele’s popularity among the Salvadoran public, which is partly based on his opposition to the easy-migration rules adopted by Biden that are pulling more young nationals from the Central American country up to the United States:
For all his combativeness, the 39-year-old Bukele is by far the most popular politician in Central America, a region plagued by corruption and criminality. His New Ideas party swept legislative elections by a landslide last month, and Bukele, who cultivates the image of a hip pragmatist, has sought to leverage China’s growing influence in the region to court new foreign investment.
Bukele’s refusal to meet with Zúñiga follows a similar snub he allegedly received when Biden turned down a meeting requested by the Salvadoran leader during an unannounced visit to the United States in February.
Zúñiga confirmed he was unable to meet with Bukele, blaming a potential scheduling conflict.
“Yes, we asked for the meeting, we did not receive it, I do not know how it was done,” he reportedly said.
Zúñiga asserted that he managed to communicate the important messages of the White House to the Central American country.
The envoy insisted on talking to Salvadoran officials about the importance of democracy and fighting corruption to reduce irregular migration.
Despite Bukele skipping the meeting with Biden’s envoy, his administration members met with the top U.S. diplomat and indicated they were willing to work with the Biden administration. The Salvadoran officials requested more development aid to keep Salvadorans from emigrating.
Bukele has said he favors “jumpstarting commerce” between the United States and El Salvador over foreign aid “handouts.”
“We are very willing to work with any initiative that aims to help,” Carolina Recinos, the coordinator of Bukele’s Cabinet, reportedly said.
In February, Biden declined to meet Bukele over Democrat criticism that the Salvadoran leader lacked respect for the rule of law and democracy, anonymous sources told AP.
It appears that Bukele’s biggest political sin was to work with former President Donald Trump on reducing illegal migration, prompting Democrats and the corporate media to paint him as a dictator who will erode democracy now that his New Ideas party won a substantial number of seats during the recent legislative body elections that could give him a supermajority via an alliance with a smaller party.
The State Department spokesperson’s remarks on Monday came in the wake of a spat between Bukele and one of his top U.S. critics, Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), a Guatemala-born lawmaker who co-chairs the Central American caucus in Congress.
Via Twitter last week, Torres dismissed Bukele as a “narcissistic dictator” for allegedly being indifferent to the plight of Central American migrants who make the dangerous journey to the U.S.