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Showing posts from February, 2019

Migration numbers

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Migration from El Salvador is usually written about in terms of the individual stories of families choosing to flee violence or economic hardship.   But it is also important to look at what available data might tell us about trends in the number of people leaving, as well as the number of people being returned through deportation back to the country.

Perhaps the most important trend in recent data is an upturn in the number of Salvadorans leaving the country, as measured by the number taken into custody after crossing the US border.  After declining significantly in 2017 and 2018, apprehensions of children traveling alone or families traveling with children have spiked up in recent months.   This chart taken from US Customs and Border Patrol data shows the trends:


The reasons for this upturn in migration are quite uncertain.   There might be some impact created by Salvadorans leaving as part of caravans, but the overall number of Salvadorans travelling in caravans is still just a smal…

New amnesty law being proposed in El Salvador

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The headline in El Faro tells the story:
Asamblea busca nueva amnistía para criminales de guerra del ejército y la guerrillaAssembly seeks new amnesty for war criminals from the army and the guerrilla forces. Human rights groups are decrying a proposal before an Ad Hoc Commission of El Salvador's legislature which would have the practical effect of restoring the amnesty which was ruled unconstitutional in 2016 by the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court.   After that ruling, prosecutions for some of the crimes against humanity committed before and during El Salvador's 12 year civil war have slowly commenced, including the case of the massacre of hundreds of children and others at El Mozote.

Much has changed politically and judicially in El Salvador, however, since the 2016 ruling. Conservative parties have a stronger majority in the National Assembly after their victories in the 2018 legislative elections.   Those conservative parties had the powe…

How crime in El Salvador will challenge Bukele

This article was originally published on the website of InsightCrime with the title The Top Three Security Challenges Facing El Salvador’s President-Elect Nayib Bukele.
Written by Héctor Silva Ávalos
It is straight to business for El Salvador’s newly sworn-in President Nayib Bukele as he faces unparalleled expectations when it comes to tackling the country’s security policy.

Some sources close to the president are giving the impression that Salvadorans will see daring, new proposals, but others fear Bukele will fall back on tried and not so true policies that have promised much but delivered little.

InSight Crime delves into three of the major issues affecting El Salvador’s public security and anti-crime efforts, which the new president will have to deal with upon taking a seat in his office at the presidential palace.

1. Gang Activity
Within the plan presented during his campaign, Bukele published a National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil – PNC) document that was supposed to be rest…

President-elect Bukele

Now that Nayib Bukele has been the president-elect of El Salvador for seventeen days, what has he been up to?

Engaging with the US

Shortly after Bukele was elected, he met with the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes.   Manes tweeted out:
Una vez más felicito al presidente electo @nayibbukele. 🇺🇸 y 🇸🇻 tienen una historia de cooperación y fuertes lazos diplomáticos. EE.UU. continuará apoyando los esfuerzos de ESA para hacer crecer la economía, mejorar la seguridad y fortalecer sus instituciones. pic.twitter.com/tJ3pu2grrV — Jean Manes (@USAmbSV) February 8, 2019
Once more I congratulate president-elect Nayib Bukele. The US and El Salvador have a history of cooperation and strong diplomatic ties. The United States will continue supporting the efforts of El Salvador to make its economy grow, improve security, and strengthen its institutions.Bukele tweeted:
A very productive meeting of more than 3 hours.  El Salvador will work to strengthen relations with our most important natural al…

El Mozote massacre triggers passions in Washington decades later

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In a recent Congressional hearing first year member of the US House of Representatives Ilhan Omar challenged Elliott Abrams over his role in the Reagan administration's denial of the truth of the El Mozote massacre.  Their clash resulted in several worthwhile articles to remind audiences in the US about the massacre which killed more than 900 civilians including more than 400 children under the age of twelve.

Raymond Bonner of the New York Times was one of the first reporters, along with Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post, to report on the massacre in the US press in 1982.   The Reagan administration where Abrams was a senior official denied these reports.   Bonner now answers in The Atlantic What Did Elliott Abrams Have to Do With the El Mozote Massacre?:
My reporting and Susan’s pictures appeared in the Times, and Alma’s reporting in the Post, in January 1982. Immediately, the administration attacked us and sought to deny the stories, calling them guerrilla propaganda.…

What was actual voter turnout in El Salvador?

El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal reported that voter turnout for the February 3 presidential election was quite low.   The TSE reported that only 51.9% of eligible voters turned out to vote.   This is the number which is being widely reported and which is being viewed as a level of voter disenchantment with politics in El Salvador.   But I don't think that number is accurate and the actual turnout is better.

The TSE calculates voter turnout by using the number of eligible voters on the election registry -- 5,268,411 and the number of votes cast on February 3 -- 2,733,178.  Of that number of 5,262,463 are citizens which the TSE believes live in the country of El Salvador, while the remainder were the 5948 Salvadorans living abroad who managed to get on the mailing list for an absentee ballot. 
But I believe the number of voters on the registry is significantly overstated.    
The best source for data on the current population of persons living in El Salvador comes from …

Is the FMLN doomed to irrelevance?

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The political party which had its origins in the guerrilla forces which fought in El Salvador's civil war may have little future in the Central American country.

In 1980, five guerrilla military forces came together to form the FMLN, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.   The FMLN would fight a twelve year civil war against a Salvadoran military backed by the US government, ultimately resolving the dispute with peace accords signed in 1992 in Chapultepec, Mexico.

With the Peace Accords, the FMLN laid down its arms and converted to the political party of the socialist left in El Salvador.  Guerrilla comandantes became politicians, mayors and legislators.   The FMLN as political party would be one of the two major political forces in El Salvador for the next 27 years, along with ARENA, the right wing party founded by major Roberto D'Aubuisson.   In 2009 and 2014, the FMLN would capture the presidency of the country.

Yet the election of Nayib Bukele on February 3 in a l…

Coverage of Bukele victory in the English language press

Nayib Bukele's victory in El Salvador was covered by the English language press primarily by the wire services and by the papers in communities with significant Salvadoran populations.  In general, it was not front page news.  The coverage in the English language press tended to focus on Bukele's youth and social media messaging, the landslide nature of the victory, Bukele's anti-corruption message, voters' rejection of the ARENA and FMLN two party system in the country, and the challenges he will face governing without a legislative coalition in the National Assembly..
Gene Palumbo and Elisabeth Malkin writing in the New York Times shared:
The dramatic win for Mr. Bukele, 37, who was running as an outsider, underscores the deep discredit into which the country’s traditional parties have fallen. Voters appeared to be willing to gamble on a relative newcomer to confront the country’s poverty and violence, shutting out the right- and left-wing parties that have dominate…

Nayib Bukele -- new president of El Salvador

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The polls were right all along.    Nayib Bukele, the young businessman turned politician whose favorite communication medium is Facebook Live, won the presidency of El Salvador on Sunday with a 23 percentage point lead over his next closest rival, Carlos Calleja of ARENA.   There will be no second round election.

There were many things which supporters of the two major parties had been saying to dispel the notion that those polls were accurate.   They claimed Bukele's supporters were all young people and that young people don't vote.   They claimed Bukele's supporters were urban hipsters, but he could not have support out in the rest of the country outside San Salvador.   They claimed that Bukele was not doing all the traditional things to win a Salvadoran election.

But "they" on the right and the left were wrong.   Bukele rode a massive wave of Salvadoran discontentment with the existing political establishment.   He won in every sector of the country.  Carlos …