US double standards over 'authoritarianism' in El Salvador, DOM REP
The US persistently tries to justify its interventionist foreign policy as triumphing democracy and liberty. However, a careful assessment of its foreign policy shows that it has been plagued with hypocrisy and double standards.
In a report for The National Interest, John Bugnacki sheds light on the lack of consistency of US foreign policy in regard to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic: condemning the former's anti-gang crackdown as authoritarian while tolerating the latter's preventative detention as being justified measures.
Ever since President Nayib Bukele assumed office, he has committed himself to a policy of reclaiming all gang-controlled areas in El Salvador in what he dubbed the Territorial Control Plan.
El Salvador has long been regarded as one of the most violent countries in the world with gangs mushrooming all across the nation and undermining the rule of law.
In line with his Territorial Control Plan, and against the onset of increased gang violence Nayib instituted a state of exception to facilitate the crackdown on gangs.
The US has condemned Nayib's anti-gang crackdown as authoritarian; with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken going as far as to describe it as a pretext "to censor the media, prevent reporting on corruption and other matters of public interest, and silence critics of the Salvadoran government.”
Nayib's policies have expanded the police's authority and increased the duration of pre-trial detention from three to fifteen days.
In sharp contrast to the US' pedantic condemnation of El Salvador's authoritarianism over the anti-gang crackdown, the Dominican Republic's "brutal preventative detention" didn't manage to trigger the US radar of triumphing liberty. The Dominican Republic's policy was met with virtually no condemnation from Washington or its loosely affiliated network of media stations and NGOs.
Up to 70% of inmates in the Dominican Republic are held under preventative detention most of whom are imprisoned with no formal charges or court proceedings for long periods of time, according to the country's National Office of Public Defense.
President Biden has in fact praised the Dominican Republic’s criminal justice system despite reports from the US embassy in the Dominican Republic noting that the detention periods “equaled or exceeded the maximum sentence for the alleged crime, with some detentions reportedly lasting years.”
It was also reported by the embassy that “significant human rights issues included credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings by government security forces; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police and other government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; [and] arbitrary interference with privacy.”
President Luis Abinader's preventative detention has been evidently spiraling towards authoritarianism. The Dominican Republic has arrested nineteen members of the opposition leadership including Abinader’s 2020 opponent, Gonzalo Castillo. Nevertheless, Abinader remains immune to US criticism and intervention for his geopolitical affinity.
The US has persistently tried to justify its interventionist foreign policy as triumphing democracy and liberty. However, a careful assessment of US foreign policy shows that it has been plagued with hypocrisy and double standards.