Memo: What Divides Salvadoran Congress, President Nayib Bukele

Show of Might Brought Tensions to Surface

Bukele entered the legislature followed by armed soldiers and police officers in riot gear. (Javier Valdivieso)

Violent crime has reduced significantly in El Salvador, one of the world’s most dangerous countries, since 38-year-old Nayib Bukele became president in June 2019. According to official figures, the country registered almost 1,000 fewer homicides last year than in 2018.

The Bukele administration argues the success is due to its Territorial Control Plan. This has increased control in prisons, blocked the financing of illicit activities, and strengthened security forces.

Then Congress intervened in 2020. Opposition lawmakers refused to approve a loan the Bukele administration needs to proceed with the third stage of its plan.


  1. What has caused political turmoil in El Salvador? 
  2. Who are the main actors in Nayib Bukele’s rise?
  3. What is the state of criminality in El Salvador? 
  4. What policies has the Bukele administration adopted to fight violence? 
  5. What are the root causes for the insuperable Salvadoran violence and emigration? 
  6. How does Bukele’s leadership impact democracy and accountability? Is he still popular?

Download the PDF (five pages)

IO-Memo, Nayib Bukele
Paz Gómez

Paz Gómez

Paz Gómez of Quito, Ecuador, is a policy analyst with Econ Americas and the cofounder and academic coordinator of Libre Razón, a liberal think tank. Follow @PazenLibertad.

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