Attacks on police and soldiers

In recent days. police and soldiers have been murdered in El Salvador at an alarming rate. Most recently we saw this yesterday, Sunday, April 28, when two police officers and three soldiers were killed in separate incidents.  The assassins all attacked off duty security forces as three of the five victims were killed at separate soccer fields as they played on their day off and the two others were also with family or friends.

The murders bring the total of security forces killed in 2019 to 25, with 17 police and 8 soldiers killed.  Director of the National Civilian Police, Howard Cotto, asserted that the murders were ordered by leaders of MS-13.

After the first murder surfaced yesterday, El Salvador's incoming president, Nayib Bukele, tweeted:

Another police officer murdered today. Days with as many as 25 dead. 
With the crisis of medicines, water, electricity, FODES, express syndicates, new hiring, leaving empty the public coffers, etc. 
I do not want to think that this may be another "bomb" of the actual Government, that also exploded before."

As the tally of dead police and soldiers reached 5, Bukele tweeted:
Another solider killed today. 3 soldiers and 2 police officers just on this Sunday. Those who are still in the Government ought to do something already. On our first day we will send a holistic proposal to the Assembly, approved by the new Council of Ministers. I hope for its rapid approval.

In his tweets, Bukele had referred rhetorically to his recent claim the the outgoing FMLN government is sabotaging the incoming administration with "bombs" in the forms of crises in the health system, water system and elsewhere. Then Monday morning, an actual bomb exploded. Sunday's murders were followed with a car bomb attack which injured two police officers.   They had been called to investigate a cadaver in a car, and as they approached the car the bomb exploded.

After the car bomb, Bukele tweeted:

Car bombs? Guerrilla tactics in so-called "common crime?" Who are we really confronting?

The attacks on police have come at a time when other murders have surged as well.   Murders were averaging only six per day during the first half of April, and are averaging 15 per day in the second half.

We do not know what will be in the "holistic proposal" which Bukele says he will unveil on his first day in office. Bukele spoke very little about public security policy during his time on the campaign trail. The national policy developed by the Sanchez Ceren administration, "Plan El Salvador Seguro" was a good holistic start, but the problem in El Salvador very often is not the lack of a plan but the failure to execute on a plan.

When confronted by surges in violence, governments of both the FMLN and ARENA reacted in the past by using increasingly repressive police tactics and calling more military into the streets.   As they did so, planned efforts at prevention and rehabilitation tended to take a back seat.   We will see if Bukele has any "nuevas ideas."