Raúl Melara, elected in 2018 and removed in May 2021 by the current Salvadoran congress due to evident political party ties, was the last head of the FGR — to ARENA political party—. The 2018 political commission of congress elected him by issuing an opinion with a single candidacy sent to the plenary session; Melara’s one.
Between December 20 and 21, 2018, the political commission of the Salvadoran Congress negotiated to elect Raúl Melara as General Prosecutor of the republic, precisely in the last plenary meeting of that year. Melara, who in previous months had been together with Carlos Calleja — ARENA’s presidential candidate, Nayib Bukele’s 2019 elections competitor — closing the presidential campaign, would be in charge of one of the vital institutions of the Salvadoran public ministry.
A total of 32 resumes reached the political commission of applicants for the position of attorney general. All were interviewed by a subcommittee, which would be in charge of reviewing each profile.
Articles 192 and 177 of the Constitution of El Salvador define the conditions for being elected to the office of attorney general. In addition, subsection 19 of article 131 of the Magna Carta grants Congress the power to select the most suitable person for the position.
The opinion issued by the political commission of Congress states the requirement of documentation from all candidates for:
– Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic (FGR)
– Attorney General of the Republic (PGR)
– Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH)
– Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ)
– Court of Accounts of the Republic (CCR)
– Government Ethics Court (TEG)
– General Directorate of Penal Centers (DGCP)
– Ministry of Finance
– Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)
The documentation requested from the TSE is the one that contrasts for the election of Raúl Melara. Evidence of Melara’s ties to ARENA emerged, photographs where he appears wearing the political party vest, meeting with the leadership of that right-wing party, and singing their slogans.
In addition, before the subcommittee that developed the interviews, Melara accepted that he was legal advisor to candidate Carlos Calleja in his attempt to come to govern El Salvador.
Despite his confession, the deputies of the subcommission did not consider or establish that he had an obvious party link, which legally inhibited him from being a prosecutor.
The prosecutor’s election began on December 20 and ended up running until the night of December 21, 2018. The balance leaned in favor of Douglas Meléndez — current Prosecutor General — who was seeking reelection and who was tentatively backed by the political forces.
However, in an unexpected change, all parties withdrew their support for Meléndez and endorsed him for Melara.
Of the 84 deputies in the full legislature, 83 supported the former director of the National Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), and only the independent deputy, Leonardo Bonilla, abstained.
Simultaneously, Congress was pending to approve the general budget of the nation for 2019. Both matters were part of an agreement; elect Melara as Prosecutor General and approve the state spending plan.
This version is verified in two points: the same number of votes to elect Melara and to approve the 2019 budget, and statements that deputies gave in which they confirmed that it was the common point they reached.
Historically, elections for second-degree officials have fallen to the political commission of Congress.
Raúl Melara was elected to start as head of the FGR on January 6, 2019, and complete his term on January 5, 2022. He was replaced by Rodolfo Delgado, who will end that period and seek reelection in office.