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El Salvador Reports an 'Incredible' Update

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

It wasn't long ago that El Salvador took the ignoble crown for being the world's most dangerous country. Outside of war-torn countries, a murder rate of 52.02 per 100,000 people will do that. In 2015 alone, gangs killed 6,665 El Salvadorans. But due to reforms President Nayib Bukele's administration has undertaken, something unprecedented in the nation's history has happened, he claimed. 

In a video message posted on Twitter, Bukele shared that the previously most violent country in the world reached a significant milestone of recording 365 days with no homicides. 

"In the decade prior to our administration, there was only one day with no homicides, one day out of ten years, we had averages of 30 homicides per day," the video states. "But in 2019, with the territorial control plan, the rates of violence fell drastically, and they fell even further when we began the war against the gangs and the state of exception, for years, having dozens of homicides per day seemed normal. Now it is rare to have even one homicide. Even though there is still work to do, El Salvador today is indisputably the safest country in Latin America."

While the post was hit with a community note indicating the "year to date murder rate is .04 homicides per day," the president's communications team clarified to media outlets that the video's claim was not 365 consecutive days but rather the total number of days recorded with no murders since 2019. 

In addition to questioning Bukele's numbers, critics have also challenged how he's carried out his war on gangs. 

In late March 2022, following a wave of violence and murders for which the government blamed the Mara Salvatrucha, a violent gang that has operated in the country for many years, Bukele declared war against the gangs and a ‘state of exception’ – which has been extended nine times since then – that has included the deployment of military and law enforcement to enter neighborhoods with a known gang presence. 

The government claims that this “effective security strategy” has resulted in the capture of nearly 63,000 people, equivalent to 1 p% of the population, who have been labeled “terrorists” and imprisoned without trial. […]

Bukele recently unveiled the country’s sprawling Terrorism Confinement Center as part of his anti-gang plan, a mega-prison that has the capacity to hold 40,000 inmates and has “state-of-the-art technology” and strict security controls. (Bloomberg Línea)

As he's tried making El Salvador safer, Bukele has simultaneously been undertaking efforts to promote economic growth. 


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