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El Salvador

CrisisWatch El Salvador

Unchanged Situation

Tensions persisted between President Bukele’s govt on one hand and Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court on the other, while corruption allegations emerged against current and previous administrations. Assembly 2 Aug approved Inter-American Development Bank’s $250mn loan to address COVID-19 pandemic after missing 31 July initial deadline for approving loan following disagreement with govt on how money would be spent. Supreme Court 7 Aug ruled July executive decree, which postponed second phase of economic reopening until 20 Aug, as unconstitutional as it gave health ministry power to limit citizens’ rights; businesses 23 Aug resumed operations without restrictions. After Bukele said in 9 Aug televised speech that he would have “shot [fusilado]” Supreme Court magistrates who ruled against govt were he a dictator, UN rapporteur on judiciaries 11 Aug expressed concern over threat to life and integrity of magistrates. Allegations of corruption involving current and former govt officials continued to emerge; authorities 14 Aug charged two former defence ministers and a former president of opposition ARENA party over suspicion of unlawful transactions with weapons company, while media outlet Factum next day accused current director of prisons of misusing $8.5mn revenue from jail shops. Govt continued to tout security achievements but homicide rates increased. Justice and Public Security Minister Rogelio Rivas 3 Aug stated femicides had dropped by 61.4% and disappearances by 46% since Bukele took office in 2019; but police reported average of 4.1 daily homicides 1-24 Aug, increase from 3.6 in July and 2.3 in June.

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Reports & Briefings

Miracle or Mirage? Gangs and Plunging Violence in El Salvador

Also available in Español

El Salvador’s Politics of Perpetual Violence

Also available in Español

Mafia of the Poor: Gang Violence and Extortion in Central America

Also available in Español

In The News

5 Sep 2020
The reduction of homicides [in El Salvador] seemed not to be due to government security strategy, but rather a gang decision. Washington Post

Tiziano Breda

Analyst, Central America
1 Mar 2018
Un pacto de Estado por la paz en El Salvador [entre el Partido FMLN y Arena que] suponga un compromiso con los cinco ejes del Plan El Salvador Seguro [es un paso indispensable]. El Faro

Sofía Martínez Fernández

Former Analyst, Northern Triangle
20 Dec 2017
Reprimir y perseguir el crimen [en El Salvador] es necesario, pero tratar por igual a los supuestos criminales y al casi medio millón de personas que viven bajo su yugo puede llegar a ser contraproducente. El Faro

Sofía Martínez Fernández

Former Analyst, Northern Triangle

Latest Updates

Gangs and Plunging Violence in El Salvador

The murder rate in El Salvador, once the world’s highest, is falling fast. President Nayib Bukele attributes the good news to his harsh anti-gang crackdown, but other factors are likely also salient. The government should explore policing and socio-economic reforms to calm the country’s streets. These interviews were recorded in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, in December 2019. During our field research we met with representatives from civil society, ex-gang members, politicians and government officials.

Miracle or Mirage? Gangs and Plunging Violence in El Salvador

The murder rate in El Salvador, once the world’s highest, is falling fast. President Nayib Bukele attributes the good news to his harsh anti-gang crackdown, but other factors are likely also salient. The government should explore policing and socio-economic reforms to calm the country’s streets.

Also available in Español

Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas

As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.

Also available in Español

La “profecía autocumplida” de Trump sobre las pandillas

El sociólogo Robert King Merton calificó de "profecía autocumplida" una predicción que, una vez hecha, es en sí misma la causa de que se haga realidad.

Originally published in EFE