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.
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.
Intense gang warfare continues to plague El Salvador, undeterred by successive governments’ heavy-handed and militarised repression policies. More investment in holistic violence prevention strategies and economic alternatives to criminal violence are necessary if the country's chronic insecurity crisis is to be alleviated.
Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
The reduction of homicides [in El Salvador] seemed not to be due to government security strategy, but rather a gang decision.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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