El Faro, El Salvador’s leading digital daily, is facing a barrage of smear campaigns, wiretaps, threats and false accusations of tax evasion by the government of President Nayib Bukele.
The news company, which is one of the most respected media sites and a beacon of investigative journalism into organised crime, corruption and violence in the region, has also been subjected to multiple wide-ranging audits and accusations of money laundering in what appears to be a systematic effort to silence its criticisms of the President and his government. There is serious concern for the freedom and safety of the El Faro team.
In response to the attacks, El Faro – an MDIF client – has publicly affirmed that it has paid all taxes due and has proof of doing so, and claims that the Treasury Ministry has manipulated figures to comply with attack orders from the President’s office. It also published articles denouncing the use of state power to persecute and silence institutions that question the government’s conduct.
Since winning a landslide election in February, President Bukele has increased the intimidation of El Faro and other individuals and institutions that might seek to impose democratic checks on his authority. On May 1, 2021 the legislative assembly sacked the Attorney General and five constitutional judges of the Supreme Court, which had previously ruled in favour of El Faro in a dispute with the government.
For further information, read El Faro’s assessment of the political situation, Bukele’s Coup Marches On.