HomeNewsBriefReality Belies El Salvador Govt Rhetoric on 'Extraordinary Measures'
BRIEF

Reality Belies El Salvador Govt Rhetoric on 'Extraordinary Measures'

EL SALVADOR / 16 APR 2018 BY FELIPE PUERTA EN

El Salvador officials boast that the use of “extraordinary measures” has improved security in the country. But this rhetoric contrasts with the real situation on the streets and in the prisons, and defies repeated requests from the international community to change course.

On April 11, El Salvador Security Minister Mauricio Landaverde presented a report on the extraordinary security measures that have been in effect since 2016, claiming they were responsible for lowering homicide rates and improving authorities' control over the prison system.

The controversial security plan includes mass arrests and the deployment of security forces and tanks on the streets. In the prisons, it limits inmates’ access to the outdoors and in some cases to their own attorneys.

The government claimed that overcrowding in the prison system had been nearly halved, and according to Landaverde, the extraordinary measures have enabled prison officials to “drastically reduce communication between imprisoned criminals and groups operating on the outside.”

Landaverde also credited the extraordinary measures for a 40 percent drop in the national homicide rate since 2015, the most violent year in El Salvador's recent history. However, the minister did not offer a comparison with homicide rate from 2016, when the extraordinary measures were implemented.

InSight Crime Analysis

The triumphant rhetoric from the Salvadoran government on its questionable security plan contrasts with the reality of continued violence in the country, and it rebuffs calls from the international community to lift the controversial extraordinary measures.

The alleged reduction in homicide rates to which Landaverde referred is more the result of conveniently chosen dates and figures than the measures implemented in 2016.

In fact, in the middle of last year, El Salvador experienced a spike in violent deaths. And in the beginning of 2018, the national police reported a 14 percent increase in the country’s homicide rate compared to the same time period during the previous year, which the government attributed to an alleged MS13 purge.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Despite calls to not to renew the extraordinary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Agnes Callamard, the Salvadoran congress recently approved a six-month extension of the plan in an almost unanimous vote, with 64 in favor, one against and three abstaining.

In an interview with InSight Crime, Callamard -- who had previously characterized the measures as “illegal” -- expressed concern regarding human rights violations committed in El Salvador.

“It is one of those countries that are battling unconventional violence and using possible excessive force in their responses,” the UN official said.

The credibility of the argument that the extraordinary measures have reduced communication among gang leaders was called into question by a recent report by La Prensa Gráfica examining a January 2016 meeting among MS13 gang members in which they planned to attempt a second truce with the Salvadoran government. According to the Attorney General’s Office, the truce never materialized due to the vote months later to extend the extraordinary measures.

The confusing way in which the government has decided to interpret and present violent crime statistics could be an attempt by the administration of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén to improve public opinion of its poor security record in preparation for next year's presidential elections.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 20 JAN 2021

Though he did not have any apparent health problems, a top MS13 leader was transferred from a prison to…

ECUADOR / 10 MAY 2022

Ecuador has seen its sixth large-scale prison massacre since the start of 2021, with at least 44 prisoners being killed…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 18 NOV 2020

Authorities in Mexico will face one of their biggest anti-corruption tests yet after a bombshell deal was brokered with the…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…