El Salvador again extends the exception regime

Bukele El Salvador

The Legislative Assembly, with a broad pro-government majority, extended on Wednesday night (04.12.2023) for the thirteenth time the state of emergency for 30 more days, with which the measure will continue until the end of May of the current year.

The measure, which has already been implemented for a year and called by the government of President Nayib Bukele a “war against gangs”, was approved with the votes of 66 members of the ruling Nuevas Ideas (NI) party and allied formations.

“The exception regime is legal and constitutional,” said Deputy Guillermo Gallegos, of the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA), during the plenary session in which the measure was endorsed. For her part, deputy Claudia Ortiz, from the opposition Vamos party, pointed out that during the emergency regime “innocent people have been captured,” for whom she asked for their release.

The Bukele Executive, through the Security Cabinet, requested on Wednesday afternoon the expansion of the regime, which suspends several constitutional rights and which was originally approved at the end of March 2022 after an escalation of murders attributed to gangs and which claimed the lives of more than 80 people in three days.

“The route to follow to transform this country”

The head of the Ministry of Security, Gustavo Villatoro, said after presenting the request for the extension to Congress that the emergency regime “is the route to follow to transform this country.” He pointed out that currently in the Central American country “an average of 0.6 homicides are registered every day” and that “65% of the 496 murders registered in 2022 were perpetrated in the first 3 months of the year, before the implementation of the extent”.

According to official figures, there are more than 67,000 people arrested, whom the government accuses of being gang members. The authorities attribute the fall in homicides to this measure and the Territorial Control Plan, which according to official accounts were 496 in 2022, 57% less than in 2021. The Central American country registered 2015 as the most violent year in its recent history and in 2016 the number of murders began to decrease, a trend that was accentuated by the Bukele government.