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Showing posts from June, 2019

Bukele's security strategy differs little from past strategies in El Salvador

This article originally appeared on the website of InsightCrime with the title El Salvador Flirts with ‘Mano Dura’ Security Policies Again
By Héctor Silva Ávalos
The new administration of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has already shown that it will adopt hardline measures to combat the MS13 and Barrio 18 street gangs — measures that have largely failed past governments.

In April, then president-elect Bukele promised that on his first day in office his government would present an integrated plan to combat delinquency. Bukele, however, ultimately outlined a series of broad security policies during a short press conference on June 18.

One priority was to send police and army into the streets to regain control of territories dominated by the MS13 and Barrio 18. Three days later, Bukele did exactly that, deploying 2,500 officers and 3,000 soldiers to the capital San Salvador and other city centers, as part of an effort to recover territory in the 12 municipalities most affected by gangs…

Two elections on Sunday

There were elections being held in Central America on Sunday.   In Guatemala and El Salvador, past charges against candidates linked to corruption or human rights abuses did not seem to matter.

In Guatemala, voters cast their ballots in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday.   The two candidates garnering the most votes and who will compete in the second round are former first lady of Guatemala Sandra Torres and former prison chief Alejandro Giammattei.   Neither candidate has a spotless record.  Torres has been under investigation in the past for campaign finance impropriety.   Giammattei was arrested and charged with crimes relating to killings of prison inmates by security forces while he was in charge of the prison system. 

Also on Sunday, party members of the FMLN in El Salvador participated in internal elections for new party leadership.   The old party leadership stepped aside following the left wing party's humiliating defeats in 2018 and 2019 elections.  Lea…

The cycle of violence

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The cycle of violence in which El Salvador is trapped has not stopped.   This past weekend is just one of countless examples. 

On Saturday, a police officer was killed in Santiago Nonualco, La Paz department.  Police said that gang members were behind the murder.

Eleven miles away the next day La Prensa Grafica reports:

Men in camouflage kill three alleged gang members in La PazThe triple murder was committed on Sunday night in the municipality of San Pedro Masahuat.  June 10, 2019Three men were killed on Sunday night in a house in the canton of Las Isletas in the municipality of San Pedro Masahuat, in the department of La Paz. The National Civil Police (PNC) asserted that the victims belonged to a gang. They were identified as Carlos Javier Renderos Góchez, Elmer Jovel Urbina and Walter Ulises Renderos Góchez; the last two are 22 years old.

The attack occurred at approximately 10:00 at night and was committed by five men who wore uniforms with light camouflage and carried long weapons.…

Firing officials by tweet

He used social media to propel himself to the presidency of El Salvador.   Now Nayib Bukele is using Twitter to govern the country, starting with firing officials from the former administration whom Bukele believes received their positions through nepotism.  As Reuters reports: The 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador, who was sworn in on Saturday, has taken some of his first actions in office via Twitter, including giving officials the ax.  His targets so far have included relatives of former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén and figures from the outgoing political party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.  “CEL President William Granadino is ordered to remove Claudia Sánchez Villalta, daughter of former President Sánchez Cerén, from her position,” he wrote in one such post on Tuesday, addressing the president of the country’s hydroelectric energy commission. “Do not hire a replacement.”  Bukele, an avid social media user with more than 700,000 Twitter followers, has …

Human rights reports

A new government has assumed power in El Salvador, and there are new leaders in the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Ministry of Defense, and the National Civilian Police.  Those new leaders would be well served to review what independent observers have said recently about the current state of human rights observance in El Salvador.

From the Executive Summary of the US State Department Annual Human Rights Report for El Salvador 2018:
Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over security forces.  Human rights issues included allegations of unlawful killings of suspected gang members and others by security forces; forced disappearances by military personnel; torture by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of government respect for judicial independence; widespread government corruption; violence against women and girls that was infrequently addressed by the authorities, as well as security for…

Bukele days 1-3

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Nayib Bukele has been working quickly to put his own stamp on El Salvador's executive branch

Bukele announced the rest of his cabinet.   His primary cabinet ministers end up being equal parts men and women.   As El Faro describes the new cabinet in an article published after the announcements, the majority of the new cabinet members are people who have been part of Bukele's circle of close business associates, confidants and members of his administration in San Salvador in the past.

With respect to Bukele's security cabinet, a commander from El Salvador's Navy, René Merino, will be the new Minister of Defense.   The new Minister of Justice and Security, Rogelio Rivas Polanco, is a civil engineer by training who does not have  direct police or criminal justice background.   He was one of the founders of the party Nuevas Ideas and most recently he held the position of head of the Institute of Municipal Development in El Salvador.  The new head of the National Civilian Po…

Nayib Bukele is now president of El Salvador

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El Salvador has a new president today. Nayib Bukele was sworn in as president in a ceremony in front of the historic National Palace in Plaza Gerardo Barrios in the center of San Salvador. It was a site picked by Bukele, both for the historic significance of the plaza bordered by the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral, but also because the renovation of this plaza and surrounding blocks was one of the prime achievements during his time as mayor of San Salvador.

Bukele also wanted this outdoor venue, instead of an indoor venue like the capital’s convention center (CIFCO) where prior ceremonies have been held, so that as many of his adoring followers as possible could attend. And Bukele’s supporters showed up in force to celebrate the inauguration of a president they see as a break from the corrupt politicians of the major political parties of the past. The public areas of the plaza, spilling into surrounding streets, were filled with Salvadorans wearing the light blue…