The Government of El Salvador, led by President Nayib Bukele, has given Mexican journalist Daniel Lizárraga, editor of the digital medium El Faro, a period of five days to leave the Central American country, Carlos Dada, founder of that prestigious newspaper, has reported Salvadoran. The immigration authorities have argued that they were unable to verify that Lizárraga is a journalist, despite having a recognized career that began in 1993. The Mexican reporter is co-author of the investigation “The White House of Enrique Peña Nieto”, a job that at the time caused a political earthquake in Mexico.
“Immigration agents of the Bukele Government notified Mexican journalist Daniel Lizárraga on Tuesday that they were revoking his 90-day permit to stay in El Salvador. El Faro was processing Lizárraga’s work permit to regularize his residence in the country and for him to act as one of the newspaper’s editors, ”the Salvadoran publication denounced.
Lizarraga’s residence permit expired at the end of this month. “His expulsion on July 6 is part of the systematic harassment that El Faro and independent journalists and media have faced in El Salvador, since the arrival of Nayib Bukele to the presidency,” said El Faro, whose writing has been the subject of investigations by part of the Ministry of Finance since last year. Hacienda points out to the newspaper to launder money and evade taxes, a tonic of judicial persecution also used in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega to persecute and silence the independent media.
“Obviously we cannot read this in any other way than as part of the escalation of attacks and harassment against El Faro and the freedom of the press in El Salvador,” Carlos Dada tells EL PAÍS. “And we frame it as one more step in all this series of harassment, harassment, threats and monitoring that the government of Nayib Bukele has been perpetrating against us for more than a year, and that we have timely denounced before all the competent authorities,” he adds .
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to all members of the El Faro newsroom in February, determining that there is sufficient evidence that the rights of its journalists are at risk. The agency ordered the Salvadoran State to investigate harassment and threats that hinder and put journalism at risk.
El Faro journalists have not only denounced persecution through institutions such as the Treasury, but also face an aggressive smear and defamation campaign, even launched by President Bukele himself in his Twitter account and press conferences. Journalists from Factum magazine have also been attacked. A court censored Factum in June and ordered him to delete a report that proved that President Bukele was lying in the case of the “Murderer of Chalchuapa”. It was a journalistic report that delved into the story of a serial murderer of women, whose victims were found in a clandestine grave. Bukele maintained that the bodies were buried decades ago, but according to Factum’s inquiries, thirteen of the fifteen bodies extracted in Chalchuapa were buried between 2020 and 2021, during the Bukele administration.
International organizations such as Human Rights Watch, as well as Salvadoran organizations, have warned of a deepening of the authoritarian drift of the Salvadoran president, who in February 2020 entered the headquarters of the National Assembly clothed by the military, in a fact that was classified as a attempted coup against the Legislative Power.
Dada – who denounced the attack against the editor of El Faro while receiving the Antoni Traveria Prize for Freedom of Expression awarded by the Casa América of Catalonia – says that the real reason for not granting Lizarraga a work permit and for requiring him to leave the country it is because he is “a renowned journalist specialized in investigating corruption cases.”
“Critical journalism and critics in general, including non-governmental organizations, some universities that have shown courage and some professional groups and individuals such as lawyers, represent right now Bukele’s last obstacle to total control, not only of the state apparatus, but rather from their refusal to be held accountable, ”says Dada. “This is the only explanation for their desire to completely dismantle democracy in El Salvador. Democratic institutions are the only reason that would explain their anger against critical journalism. It is a regime that does not tolerate criticism, because it can undress you, “says the journalist.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the region’s news.