Showing posts from May, 2022

A gothic cathedral rises outside San Salvador

Drivers in the San Salvador area in recent months have seen the unmistakable skeleton of a gothic style church, complete with flying buttresses, rising up in a suburb of the capital city.  An ultra-conservative sect of the Roman Catholic church is building the church in the municipality of Apopa just northeast of San Salvador.  The group, named  Heraldos del Evangelio (Heralds of the Gospel), is constructing a religious center and shrine to the Virgin of Fatima  on the site at the base of the San Salvador volcano in an area known as Valle El Angel. The newspaper El Diario de Hoy recently published an  overview  of the Heraldos' plans for the church currently under construction. In addition to the church, the Heraldos hope to erect a spirituality center including include a school, a museum of sacred art, auditoriums and a space for outdoor events. Renderings of the future church from the Heraldos El Salvador website . So far the most visible element is the partially-completed got

Bukele continues to receive thumbs up from Salvadoran public

Two Salvadoran universities released poll results May 25 providing the opinions of the Salvadoran public regarding the current State of Exception and other aspects of the government of president Nayib Bukele.   Despite the warnings of human rights advocates and independent journalists regarding arbitrary detentions, the abuse of human rights, and the decline of the rule of law in the country, it would be fair to say that the Salvadoran public is quite satisfied with the current performance of the government.   The University Institute of Public Opinion (IUDOP) of the UCA conducted a poll to learn public sentiment surrounding the State of Exception and the accompanying roundup of more than 34,000 suspected gang members and collaborators.  The IUDOP poll results  show the Salvadoran public to be broadly supportive of those measures.  According to the poll:   89.2% believe the State of Exception has been useful in reducing the level of crime in the country. 78.7% say crime has decreased s

Traffic report

You can spend a lot of time in El Salvador's cities in traffic, particularly in San Salvador.  Growing number of vehicles on the roads in crowded cities produce rush hours which can seem to last throughout the day and challenge your ability to arrive on time. On the one hand, the growth in the number of vehicles is a positive sign of a growing number of Salvadoran households able to afford car ownership.   On the other hand, the country has to struggle with congestion and the need to adapt its street and highway system to the ever increasing vehicle total. Here is a set of statistics about traffic in El Salvador: 1.5 million .  That's the number of vehicles  registered to drive on El Salvador's roads according to the vice minister of Transportation .   That total includes slightly more than 1 million cars and 451 thousand motorcycles. 10 thousand .  The number of additional vehicles which arrive in the country each month, the majority of them being used vehicles shipped fro

Liberar Los Lancheros

( English version ) Esta es una historia de personas que han caído en los arrestos y detenciones masivas que han sido el sello distintivo del actual Estado de Excepción en El Salvador.  Hay muchas historias de detenciones arbitrarias de personas que no tienen vínculos con las pandillas del país, según sus vecinos y otras personas que los conocen muy bien.  Este es solo un ejemplo, pero destaca porque tiene muchas consecuencias para toda una comunidad y no solo para los hombres detenidos. El 13 de mayo, la Policía Nacional Civil y las Fuerzas Armadas de El Salvador anunciaron que habían arrestado a un grupo de supuestos "colaboradores" con la MS-13, acusándolos de transportar drogas y suministros, para las islas en la Bahía de Jiquilisco.  Las lanchas que ellos operaban fueron incautadas por las fuerzas de seguridad. En Pto.El Triunfo, Usulután,en conjunto con la @PNCSV , ubicamos a 4 colaboradores de la pandilla MS-13, a quienes se les incautó 3 lanchas de motor fuera de bo

Free the Boatmen!

( Versión en español ) This is a story of being swept up in the mass arrests and detentions which have been the hallmark of the current State of Exception in El Salvador.  There are many stories of arbitrary detentions of people who have no links with the country's gangs according to their neighbors and people who know them well.  This is just one example, but one which has broad consequences for an entire community and not just for the men detained. On May 13, the National Civilian Police and the Salvadoran Armed Forces announced that they had arrested a group of supposed "collaborators" with MS-13, accusing them of transporting drugs and supplies, to the islands in Jiquilisco Bay.  The boats they operate were seized by the security forces. En Pto.El Triunfo, Usulután,en conjunto con la @PNCSV , ubicamos a 4 colaboradores de la pandilla MS-13, a quienes se les incautó 3 lanchas de motor fuera de borda utilizadas para transportar drogas y suministros a islas de la Bahía

The State of Exception continues

The State of Exception in El Salvador, which suspends a set of set of constitutional guarantees is now concluding its 8th week.  A  CID-Gallup poll  in mid-April found that 91% of Salvadorans support the current gang crackdown.     The government says that more than 32,500 suspected gang members have been arrested. Meanwhile some legislative deputies from Bukele's Nuevas Ideas party have suggested that the State of Exception will need to be extended for 30 more days after it expires next week, despite the fact that homicides in the country have been at record low levels for almost the entire past seven weeks.  In other words, it is not clear that the country faces an ongoing crisis situation of the type that justifies suspending important constitutional rights.   The human rights organization Cristosal states that it has recorded 555 cases of violations of human rights in the 8 weeks that the State of Exception has been in force in El Salvador.  There are reports of torture and

Into already overcrowded prisons, State of Exception adds thousands more

This post originally appeared May 16 on the website of InsightCrime with the title  Will Soaring Arrests in El Salvador Overwhelm its Prisons? ******** As part of his sweeping gang crackdown, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has overseen the mass imprisonment of tens of thousands of people, potentially jeopardizing recent efforts to mitigate overcrowding and gang control in the country’s jails. El Salvador authorities claim to have made over 30,000 arrests since roundups began March 27, the day El Salvador’s legislature approved emergency powers that loosened rules on arrests and curtailed civil liberties. The state of emergency came after a three-day killing spree in March that left 87 people dead, including 62 in a single day. Congress extended the emergency powers for another 30 days on April 24. The government has claimed that nearly all of the people detained under the emergency decree have been gang members. But reports of arbitrary detentions are widespread, and police un

Recent news summary

Here is a summary of some of what has been happening in El Salvador in the first half of May. World bond markets fear El Salvador will default on its debt. The discount on El Salvador’s foreign debt surged to record levels in recent days as world investors see it as increasingly likely that El Salvador will default in the near future. The risk component of a bond discount reflects the willingness of a bond investor to sell the bond on the secondary market for a discount from its face value because of a concern the government issuer will not honor its promise to pay the face value. With respect to El Salvador, investors see that risk as one of the highest in the world currently. As each week passes without El Salvador reaching agreements with international lending institutions to refinance its debt, that risk increases. As Bitcoin price swoons, Bukele keeps doubling down with country’s cash. The price of Bitcoin dropped below $30,000 USD this week, having dropped 50% in the

A year of single party rule in El Salvador

May 1 marked the one year anniversary of Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party taking control of the legislative branch of El Salvador’s government with a super majority, earned by sweeping national elections on February 28, 2021. That date also marked the end of decades of multi-party democracy in El Salvador. Until this past year, no party in the Assembly could pass measures without the support of one or more other parties. In practice, this meant that legislation passed slowly, and frequently as the result of political deal-making. But for the past year, Nuevas Ideas can pass legislation on its own, meaning that what Nayib Bukele wants, Nayib Bukele gets. The very first act of Nuevas Ideas last May 1 was to take control of the judicial branch and the Attorney General’s office. The new Legislative Assembly began by sacking the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Judicial Court, and replaced them with hand-picked loyal judges. Those new judges wo