DC Pressure Behind Resignation of El Salvador Security Minister?

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El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes denies that he bowed to U.S. pressure and forced Public Security Minister Manuel Melgar to resign, while hardliners in his political party say otherwise.

After two years serving as security minister, Melgar submitted his resignation to Funes on November 8. However, the minister had become so ineffectual at his job due to political pressures his decision to step down was a mere “formality,” reports El Faro.

According to Jose Luis Merino, secretary of Funes’ party the FMLN, Melgar resigned after the U.S. turned down his request for intelligence on drug traffickers based in El Salvador. Other members of FMLN have echoed these claims.

U.S. diplomats refuse to meet with Melgar because he is implicated in the 1985 killings that left four U.S. marines dead in El Salvador. During President Barack Obama’s June 2011 trip to El Salvador, no U.S. representative met with Melgar.

A UN report on the incident found no evidence that Melgar was involved in the 1985 attack. The allegations against him stem from testimony by a former guerrilla leader given to U.S. authorities.

Funes denied allegations that U.S. pressure was responsible for Melgar’s resignation. He also rejected rumors that he would replace Melgar with a military official.

During Melgar’s tenure as security minister, he oversaw the deployment of the military to troubled city neighborhoods, as well as several prisons. He also saw a small decline in El Salvador’s murder rate between 2009 and 2010, although the country still ended the year with more than 4,000 homicides.

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