Salvador: autocratic President Bukele against gangs
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El Salvador has been living under a state of emergency for eight months. The country’s president, Nayib Bukele, has declared all-out war on ultra-violent gangs, suspending constitutional guarantees at the same time. Mass arrests are on the rise. Nearly 60,000 people have been arrested since March. Thousands of offenders are now in prison. This repression, supported by a large part of the population, is however strongly criticized by human rights NGOs. Report by Laurence Cuvillier and Matthieu Comin.

Several foreign governments, as well as the UN, criticize the many authoritarian excesses of Nayib Bukele. Since March, the President of El Salvador has controlled all the political and legal authorities of this country of 6.5 million inhabitants. Faced with these criticisms, many Salvadorans respond: “if he is a dictator, he is in any case the best dictator in the world.”

Before Nayib Bukele came to power in 2019, El Salvador had lived for more than twenty years in fear of the maras, ultra-violent gangs. For most of the 2010s, the country remained ranked among the top three most dangerous in the world.

On September 15, 2022, the Salvadoran President announced that he would stand for re-election in the 2024 general elections where, in addition to electing the Head of State, Salvadorans will have to vote for a new Legislative Assembly and Councils municipalities of the 262 municipalities. The Constitution normally prohibits two consecutive terms, but the president can count on the support of the Supreme Court of Justice, which he remodeled to his liking by dismissing five judges and the attorney general in May 2021, to be able to represent himself.

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