Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reaction to ouster of public security chiefs

There was a lot of reaction over the weekend to the news that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court had ruled that the Minister of Public Security and the Director of the National Civilian Police (PNC) were both named invalidly because both were ex-military officers.

President Mauricio Funes indicated in his weekly radio call-in show that he would comply with the ruling of the Constitutional Chamber.  While he criticized the judges for having an anti-military philosophy, he said that democratic order required that he comply with the ruling whether he agreed with it or not.

Former president, and current presidential candidate, Tony Saca applauded Funes' decision to promptly comply with the decision as the appropriate one and indicated agreement with the court's ruling.

Vicepresident, and current presidential candidate, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, stated that the court's ruling would complicate the public security policies of the country.    Without directly criticizing the ruling, he indicated that this ruling played into the hands of those persons who wanted to see the gang truce fail.   For Sanchez Ceren, this is a tricky issue since an FMLN party official had criticized the appointment of the two generals in early 2012, but as a member of the Funes administration, he officially backed their positions.   Now as the FMLN's candidate for president, part of his campaign is for the FMLN to suggest that the benefits of the truce are the result of his party's public security strategy.  

A spokesman for the conservative ARENA party used the occasion to criticize the public security policies of the Funes administration.   He asserted that the government should care less for the gang members and more for the victims.

The gang leaders themselves held a press conference in prison where they criticized the court's ruling saying that it was playing with public security and "even worse with the lives of Salvadorans."  They said that the deposed ministers had played important roles in backing the mediators of the truce.   Despite these warnings, the gang leaders re-affirmed that they were still committed to the process of the truce.

One of the country's leading conservative papers, La Prensa Grafica criticized the decision as going beyond the borders of the constitution.

Christian preachers of the Evangelical Alliance of El Salvador came out in support of president Funes' decision to comply with the ruling as strengthening democracy in the country, and expressed their hope that Funes would name replacements who would work with the interests of the security of all the people at heart.

An article in La Prensa Grafica also reported that residents of high crime neighborhoods where the military currently patrols in conjunction with the PNC  were worried that El Salvador's Supreme Court would next rule that such joint military operations were prohibited on the same basis.  

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