An extended state of exception to curb gang violence in El Salvador will conclude today.
The divisive measure resulted in over 50,000 arrests for gang affiliations amid mounting allegations of human rights violations. President Nayib Bukele argues the state of exception is necessary to dismantle gang infrastructure, while advocacy groups say innocent El Salvadorans are being unjustly rounded up in sweeps.
El Salvador ranks as one of the most dangerous Central American countries, with gang violence following the country’s 1979-1992 driving many to emigrate. Bukele’s increasingly authoritarian measures to curb violence and maintain power foster continued resentment among the public, worsening the country’s ongoing instability and jeopardizing critical foreign aid.
Bukele will not likely further extend the state of exception, as the state likely nears the limit of incarcerated people it can handle. While his actions may afford Bukele a temporary drop in the crime rite, domestic and international condemnation for his methods will outweigh any positive benefits he could have achieved. In the long run, Bukele’s actions may only lead to further international isolation as any illusion of democracy fades. He likely will enter a self-perpetuating cycle, relying increasingly on authoritarian measures to maintain power against protests provoked by the very same measures.
Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.