El Salvador

Two decades after the end of its civil war, El Salvador has been trying to limit the influence of criminal gangs that control large portions of the country. Once afflicted by the world’s highest murder rate, the country now sees fewer homicides, but the gangs have tightened their grip upon turf where they run extortion rackets and exercise other forms of social control. Every year, the dangers of daily life push tens of thousands of Salvadorans to hazard the journey north to the U.S. border. Through its fieldwork and advocacy, Crisis Group presses for crime prevention, rehabilitation and socio-economic reform policies that can make El Salvador a safer place to live.

CrisisWatch El Salvador

Unchanged Situation

Authorities again renewed state of exception as attention shifted from security to economy.

Authorities renewed state of exception amid ongoing discussions about its impact. Legislative Assembly 10 April extended state of exception for 30 days. University Institute of Public Opinion (IUDOP) 15 April published survey evaluating measure. Among other things, review found that majority of people credit state of exception with improving security, with almost 88% reportedly feeling safer since its inception; 74% said they were cautious of discussing measure, however, for fear of reprisals. Many respondents also raised concerns about arrest of innocent people and other abuses perpetrated by security forces. Meanwhile, lawmakers 29 April approved amendment to Article 248 of Constitution, allowing same legislature to pass constitutional reforms with two thirds of vote; critics said move further consolidates President Bukele’s power. 

Concerns about economy grew. IUDOP’s survey revealed that Salvadorans main concerns have shifted from security to economy, unemployment and high cost of living. Media 11 April reported that Legislative Assembly had approved 49 different loans for Bukele administration; opposition congresswoman Claudia Ortiz 10 April criticised govt debt and lack of transparency about how loans are used.  

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