May 31, 2020 / 6:24 PM / 2 months ago

El Salvador's Congress OKs law to reopen economy, President Bukele vows veto

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s Congress passed a new emergency bill to address the impact of the coronavirus crisis and gradually reopen the Central American nation’s economy, while President Nayib Bukele has vowed to veto the measure.

Bukele argues it is too risky to reopen the country as it could lead to a rise in coronavirus infections. El Salvador has registered 46 deaths from coronavirus and a total of 2,517 cases.

Lawmakers voted 56 to 6, with one abstention, late on Saturday to pass the bill that would establish guidelines for restarting production, lay out worker’s rights, and regulate quarantines.

Bukele had asked Congress to prolong current quarantine measures for another 15 days, to give time for coronavirus infections to come down. He said economic activity could resume once the quarantine extension expired.

“They know that this bill will be vetoed. Their interest is not to reactivate the economy. They are even less interested in people’s lives and health. Their job is to trip up the government,” Bukele wrote on Twitter.

Bukele has repeatedly angered rights groups, who say he has shown authoritarian tendencies, and clashed with lawmakers. In February, Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied congress.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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