The U.S. has condemned efforts of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and other Salvadoran officials of interfering in election races after allegations were made by a California Democrat.
Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., who easily won reelection in the state's 35th Congressional district, accused Bukele, members of his Cabinet, and his political party of interfering in her race by backing her opponent, Republican Mike Cargile. Torres, a native of Guatemala, won the race with 57.4% of the vote.
"Frankly, I am disappointed in the lack of enforcement in our judicial system to address foreign interference in our elections," Torres said in a Nov. 9 release issued by her campaign. "I was the subject of many threats, falsehoods, and harassment, both in-person and online. Many of the online attacks were orchestrated in El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele. He was aided in these efforts by his cabinet, members of his political party, and even by Consul Generals working in the U.S."
In April 2021, Bukele tweeted: "I hope that all my Salvadoran, Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan, Dominican, Venezuelan, and all Latin American brothers in the 35th District of California DO NOT VOTE for @NormaJTorres."
The State Department said it frowns at such an attempt by a foreign leader to influence a race.
"Throughout our last electoral process, we noted with alarm increasingly direct attempts by some Salvadorans to directly influence certain electoral outcomes in the United States," a State Department spokesperson said in an email, according to NBC News. "As we have repeatedly made clear, this is unacceptable, and we have repeatedly communicated this directly to the Government of El Salvador through official diplomatic channels.
"The integrity of our elections is a vital part of our democratic processes; the will of the people must not be undermined by foreign influence."
Milena Mayorga, El Salvador's ambassador to the United States, did not comment on the allegations against Bukele but accused Torres of interfering in El Salvador's 2021 legislative elections, according to NBC News, something Torres denied.
NBC News reported the Justice Department declined to comment on whether any election laws were broken. The Federal Election Commission has rules restricting foreign nationals from donating to a political campaign, but its rules are murky about whether Bukele's tweet urging others to vote against Torres broke the law.
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