El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele refused to meet with a senior US diplomat who visited the Central American nation in response to what he perceives as a pattern of slights from Democrats and the Joe Biden government, according to two aides to the president. cited by the AP agency.
Bukele’s decision not to meet with Ricardo Zúñiga, Biden’s envoy to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador follows a similar snub he allegedly received from US officials during an unannounced visit to Washington in February, who allegedly denied him a meeting. with Biden.
On that occasion, the Salvadoran president said that he had gone to the United States on a private visit and denied that he had requested a meeting with Biden, although the media claimed otherwise.
Upon his arrival, Zúñiga immediately announced a contribution of $ 2 million to an international commission that seeks to strengthen the fight against corruption, something that Biden administration officials consider one of the main causes of migration.
Zúñiga was hoping to meet with Bukele before returning to Washington, DC on Thursday, according to a State Department spokesperson.
But Bukele told attendees that he will not meet with a Biden official until the United States softens its remarks about its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, according to two people quoted by the AP who spoke on condition of anonymity due to. to the diplomatic delicacy of the subject.
Specifically, the two said Bukele was furious at comments made Monday by State Department spokesman Ned Price that the United States expected Bukele to restore “a strong separation of powers where it has been eroded and demonstrate his government’s commitment to transparency and accountability ”.
El Salvador’s presidential press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ask Salvadorans not to support a Democratic representative
Price’s comments came after a verbal dispute between Bukele and one of his biggest critics in the United States: Democratic Rep. Norma Torres.
In a series of tweets last week, Torres, who came to the United States as a child from Guatemala, accused Bukele of behaving like “a narcissistic dictator” indifferent to the hardships of Central American migrants who take great risks to reach the United States. .
Torres attached a photograph that circulated in 2019 that shows the bodies of a Salvadoran immigrant and his daughter lying in the Rio Bravo (or Grande), on the Texas border.
Bukele responded that he was not even in office when those deaths occurred, which occurred during a previous surge in Central American migration under Donald Trump’s presidency. Bukele urged Salvadorans and other Central American immigrants in California to vote against Torres.
She “does not work for you, but to keep our countries in underdevelopment,” the president wrote.
Bukele’s rudeness to Zúñiga also comes just days after the Bukele government awarded a $ 1.2 million lobbying contract to a former career State Department diplomat in order to improve his ties with the new US president.
The Salvadoran president has had difficulty approaching the Biden government, which is trying to eliminate the harsh immigration policies that the previous government implemented to restrict asylum applications and that Bukele accepted in exchange for Washington’s support.