Six days after the US State Department published the first group of corrupt actors on Engel’s List, representatives of President Najib Bukil’s government signed a “lobby” contract in Washington, D.C. for Government Relations Consulting Services.
The said contract with Invest El Salvador, managed by David Allan Metzner, was approved at the United States Foreign Lobby Registry Office, on July 7 this year.
Metzner is the founder and co-owner of the lobby company American Continental Group and is also a member of the Washington Economics Club’s US-China Business Council. Between 2003 and 2009, he was Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, during which time he focused on China, Latin America, and issues of globalization.
Contrary to this lobbying decision, Bukele, since the publication of Engel’s List, has put forward an account in which he accused the United States of interfering to select officials of his department of corruption and in which he implied that the United States government was not his friend. El Salvador, while tending to strengthen its relationship with China.
“(The company) will improve bilateral relations and communication between the United States and El Salvador to promote foreign investment.”
bypass, signed with Invest El Salvador.
However, despite these public expressions of the Salvadoran president, the lobbying work in the American capital was not limited only to the relationship with the company led by Metzner.
In total, from August 2020 to July 2021, the government of El Salvador signed contracts with several companies in Washington, D.C. in the amount equivalent to $3,210,000, among other things, to try to improve bilateral relations.
As for the case, in the contract documents with Invest El Salvador, with registration 6890, it is detailed that the company will “improve relations and bilateral communication between the United States and El Salvador to promote foreign investment and work directly with the diaspora.”
Ironically, despite the large sums devoted to the issue, the rift between the Bukele government and the administration of President Joe Biden has only become more apparent in recent months.
Which was most evident last September, when Chargé d’Affairs at the US Embassy in the country, Jean Manis, noted that the president’s re-election, sanctioned by imposed judges in the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), represented the “regression of democracy” and that it hurt bilateral relationship with the United States. The statements that made Bukele’s hints increase.
For this reason, Congresswoman Norma Torres said recently that all of these lobbying efforts paid with Salvadoran money will not change the image that many lawmakers and senators already have of Bukele.
Michael Ballberg, a professor of political science at Commonwealth University of Virginia and an expert on Latin American politics, told La Prensa Gráfica that actions similar to those taken by the government of El Salvador, unlike the United States, “make it more difficult for lobbyists to work to bring governments closer.” He noted that Bukele’s confrontational stance “makes lobbying more profitable” in the United States.
According to another subject matter expert and former US government official, the decades of lobbying pushed by the Salvadoran government show that criticism and accusations by the United States and some members of Congress still make Bukele very uncomfortable.
Actions complicate support
Meanwhile, a former US State Department official, who has extensive experience in Central American-related issues, said it was normal for foreign governments to ask for help, due to their lack of experience with complex governments like the United States. of pressure groups to improve their relations with the current rulers.
“(The actions of the El Salvador government) make it more difficult for lobbyists to bring relations closer.”
Michael BalbergProfessor of political science.
“It is very normal for foreign governments to enter into a lobbying contract to help manage the relationship with the United States, because the United States government is very complex. There are many companies out there that have the capacity, and former officers have a lot of experience in government. And so they can help maneuver with different departments and know how to get to the base with the right personnel,” the former official told La Prensa Graveca.
Small governments with little capacity or experience in diplomatic relations are those that often seek support from lobbyists in Washington to approach or improve relations with the United States.
However, according to the former officer, undemocratic actions and attitudes not only complicate relations with Washington. It also complicates the task of pressing.
“This complicates the situation for the American government seeking to aid and promote economic development and aid in the sense of security. This work can only be done with full rights-respecting democratic governments, which are based on respect for the rights of the United States. Rules and law. And in the absence of that, it becomes It’s hard for the US government to help.”
“This work (pressure) can only be done with fully democratic governments that respect rights, and that are based on respect for rules.”
external, US Department of State.
The contract signed between the Salvadoran government and Invest El Salvador, last July, is the second consulting contract that Bukele has paid for the same company.
This last decade highlights the focus that lobbyists will “inform US officials and the media about the importance of promoting a strong dialogue between the United States and El Salvador, and encouraging foreign investment” in the country.
However, other experts also point out that allegations of corruption, the dismissal of Constitutional Circuit judges in the Supreme Court of Justice, and the intent to amend the Constitution for re-election have caused antibodies among many members of Congress, including some of the Republicans who granted the benefit. From skepticism to Bukele at the beginning of his administration.
In total, the government of El Salvador will pay Invest El Salvador for the two contracts that expire in November and December of this year in the amount of $1,170,000. The first of them is $780,000 and the second is $390,000.
The payments were made in installments of $65,000 per month. This means that the Salvadoran government pays Invest El Salvador $130,000 per month for both contracts. In addition, he pays an additional $100,000 to Arnold and Porter, led by Thomas Shannon, for another lobbying contract signed last March.
In other words, the state pays a total of $230,000, plus other representation expenses when lobbyists’ allowance exceeds $5,000 per month for outreach and outreach counseling.
Since the publication of Engel’s List, President Bukele has maintained a confrontational tone with the United States. However, only six days after the list was published, the government of El Salvador signed a contract with Invest El Salvador to lobby in the US capital.