News from El Salvador

After  few weeks away from regular posts on El Salvador Perspectives, here is an update on the news out of El Salvador.

Intense rains cause localized flooding

Flooding rains passed through El Salvador this weekend as Hurricane Bonnie passed off the Pacific coast. At least two people were killed and 90 left in shelters, with school classes suspended nationwide on Monday. Videos circulated on social media of water flooding public hospitals including the country’s largest public hospital, Rosales. Although the government has had the funds on hand to replace or modernize Rosales since the beginning of the Bukele administration in 2019, no work has commenced on that project.   Sinkholes appeared in streets throughout the metropolitan area of San Salvador illustrating the ongoing infrastructure needs and the impact of urban development which has paid little attention to risk management.   

The State of Exception continues

The State of Exception, which suspends constitutional due process guarantees and gives the government the right to eavesdrop on communications without a warrant, was extended by the Legislative Assembly at Bukele’s request for another month until at least July 24.  Bukele's "war on gangs" continues.  According to the government it has arrested more than 43,000 suspected gang members and collaborators since March 27.

Of 37,710 suspects who have so far been brought before courts for initial hearings through June 28, only 506 persons have been released. El Salvador is approaching having almost 2% of its adult population in prison.  Reports of arbitrary detentions of persons with no apparent links to gangs continue to mount.      
Bukele tweeted images of the early phases of a new mega-prison outside of San Vicente which is planned to hold 20,000 prisoners accused of gang crimes.

54 persons have died after being detained during the State of Exception according to data compiled by the human rights organization Cristosal.  Outside of the prison walls, homicides during the three months of the State of Exception have been at historically low levels.

The government of El Salvador decided not to show up at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to answer questions about human rights abuses during the State of Exception.

Three police agents were ambushed and killed by alleged gang members in Santa Ana. There have been relatively few assassinations of security forces during the gang round-up, especially compared to 2017 when 44 police and soldiers were murdered in the first nine months.

Nayib Bukele held a press conference following the police killings which he used to attack Salvadoran and international human rights groups. Bukele alleges that the groups do not care for the victims of violence or for the police who are killed protecting Salvadorans in their neighborhoods, but care only for the rights of gang members.

Human Rights Watch responded, noting that it recognizes and condemns the horrors inflicted on the Salvadoran population by gangs, but also emphasizing that the government must honor its human rights obligations in eliminating gang criminality.    

Bukele also stated that the State of Exception will not last forever, but he gave no indication that he will stop asking for extensions any time soon.

The Bitcoin country

The collapse of crypto-currency prices has Bukele unfazed. When the price of Bitcoin dropped to $19,000, Bukele announced (in English on Twitter) that the country had purchased another 80 BTC at $19,000. (The price of Bitcoin would need to rise to almost $44,000 from its current level for El Salvador to recoup its losses on previous purchases).  Others are raising questions of whether there is any proof of where, when and how the government made any of the Bitcoin purchases proclaimed by Bukele's tweets over the past year.       

El Faro reported that El Salvador has obtained loans from the World Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to help the government cover short term spending needs and reimburse pandemic purchases.   The loans may help the government have maneuvering room to refinance $800 million in eurobonds which come due in 2023.

Fighting disease.

El Salvador is in the midst of a seasonal outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue disease, with the country seeing the most infections since 2015.  At the same time, El Salvador faces a fifth COVID-19 wave spurred by Omicron variants.   Although cases are rapidly climbing, the government has not been timely releasing data on cases and hospitalizations.


Charly Boqueron said…
there is no mention of ongoing investigations into the criminal activity of nayib bukele, his family members and members of his government staff. there are multiple leads to structure a case on accounts of drug trafficking, money laundering, obstruction of justice, terrorism, etc. if the u.s authorities follow the trails of jose luis merino, rogelio rivas, karim bukele, herbert saca, juan orozco, ernesto sanabria and walter araujo they will find all the evidence necessary to arrest, extradite and sentence mr. bukele to serve time in prison. they should follow a more aggressive plan than they did with former honduran president hernandez because salvadoran elections are just around the corner and the longer bukele stays in power beyond his legal five year term the more harm he will cause to the salvadoran people and to the region as a whole.