Bukele’s government restricts press access to events


On 6 September 2019, President Nayib Bukele held a press conference to announce the creation of an anti-corruption commission with the support of the Organisation of American States (OAS). However, a group of journalists, including Gabriel Labrador and Fernando Romero, from El Faro and Factum Magazine respectively, was denied access to the event. According to news reports, military forces and employees of the President’s Press Secretariat blocked the journalists’ entrance without justification. On the same day, Bukele published a statement on his Twitter account justifying the decision based on alleged past behaviour by these outlets’ reporters. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Edison Lanza, commented on the situation, stating that governments should be neutral about media outlets’ editorial line.

On 10 September 2019, El Salvador’s Mesa de Protección a Periodistas (Board for Protection of Journalists) highlighted the restrictions against El Faro and Factum in a statement expressing deep concerns about the situation of freedom of expression in the country. The Board outlined a number of reasons for concern, including restrictions on press, increasing expressions of hate on social media against journalists who criticise the government, and lack of transparency and access to information.

On 11 September 2019, a journalist from Factum was again denied access to a government event.

On 16 September 2019, the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Fusades) released an analysis on press freedom in El Salvador, and the challenges to overcoming its decline in recent years. Fusades underscored the hostile environment for journalistic work in the country and the risk of this situation deteriorating. Self-censorship, restrictions on covering political and government events, attacks in the exercise of their profession, threats and the risk of attacks on their lives, are among the factors that endanger and restrict Salvadoran journalists.