The Central American nation of El Salvador, has descended further into corruption, poverty, violence and authoritarianism as the president has announced new efforts to “crack down on gang violence” – by stripping the civil liberties and protections for everyone.
DNYUZ reported this week about the everyday people who have now been caught up in the alleged crack down: “It has been four weeks since the shoemaker vanished from his hometown, hauled away in handcuffs by Salvadoran police,” also noting, “The family of the man, Heber Peña, 29, has gathered business receipts and signatures from clients to prove he makes his money honestly. They fear he is now stuck in an overcrowded prison, accused of being a gang member.”
The outlet continued, stating that the family of the cobbler, still believes that the country benefits from the crackdown by police, despite it causing the cobbler’s own arrest.
They also still expressed admiration for President Nayib Bukele – who ordered the crackdown in the first place.
“Apart from this, everything the president has done is magnificent,” said Caleb Peña, Heber’s brother.
After a spate of murders in March, 18,000 Salvadorans have been locked up after Bukele declared a state of emergency, which stripped citizens of their civil liberties which is supposed to be guaranteed in the country’s constitution. Children as young as 12 years old will also be tried as adults.
Human rights groups have denounced the actions as violations of fundamental freedoms. U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken urged the Salvadoran government to “uphold due process and protect civil liberties.”
But most Salvadorans are not complaining. The country has grown weary of endless bloodshed, of the gangs that terrorize them, of the lawlessness that has inspired so many to travel more than 1,000 miles to the American border.
“The gangs fueled a cycle of bloodshed that deepened frustration with a political system that could not deliver lasting peace,” DNYUZ reported. “Now many Salvadorans have embraced a young leader with an authoritarian bent who, at least temporarily, has given them the stability that has proved elusive.”
El Salvador’s president Bukele, 40, has become a popular leader and supporters say that it is because he was able to bring down the amount of gang violence since becoming president in 2019 and has been praised for his handling of the covid pandemic.
Most Salvadorans, however, simply do not see themselves as oppressed according to DNYUZ, or they “just don’t care.”
“For many people in El Salvador, democracy is basically the ability of the political system to respond to their plight,” José Miguel Cruz, an expert on El Salvador at Florida International University. “By that standard, they see this as the best option they have.”
Trading your rights for security does not have a track record for going well for the people who do it and the powers being wielded by Bukele could easily be abused and it appears that may already be happening.