The State Department denounced efforts by El Salvador to influence “certain election outcomes” in the U.S., after a California congresswoman accused the president of El Salvador and other Salvadoran officials of interfering in her 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 a statement.
“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 spokesperson added.
Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), who won reelection in California’s 35th Congressional District, has accused Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele of orchestrating “online attacks” against her.
“This kind of flagrant manipulation of our electoral politics demands a strong response by the federal government to counteract misinformation, harassment, and lies directed by foreign governments to influence our democratic system,” Torres said in a press release, following her successful reelection.
Bukele initially urged residents in Torres’s district to vote against the incumbent in a tweet last April.
“She does not work for you, but to keep our countries underdeveloped,” Bukele said.
The dispute between the California congresswoman and the president of El Salvador reportedly ignited when Torres tweeted a photo of a father and daughter from El Salvador who died attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the U.S.
“Pres.@nayibbukele—I’ll make it clearer. This is a result of narcissistic dictators like you interested in being ‘cool’ while people flee by the 1000s & die by the 100s,” Torres said in a tweet. “Send me a pair of glasses so I may see the suffering of your people through your eyes.”
Bukele fired back, noting that the pair left El Salvador in the spring of 2019 before he took office. Days later, Bukele posted the tweet urging California residents in the 35th District to vote against Torres.
In the months leading up to this month’s midterm elections, members of Bukele’s government and political party supported Torres’s opponent at rallies and on social media, she told NBC News.
“I work in Congress to reduce the number of asylum seekers at our Southern border by helping to create strong democracies, economic opportunities, and safety in Latin America,” Torres said in the press release this month. “Rather than supporting these efforts, President Bukele would rather devote his own country’s resources in a failed attempt to defeat my candidacy.”