U.S. Gives $98 Million In Aid To El Salvador To Fight Gang Violence And Reduce Northern Migration

Over the last few years, El Salvador’s reputation for gang violence and corruption has gained national attention. In 2015, San Salvador, the country’s capital and largest city, had one of the highest murder rates in the entire world, at 108.5 murders for every 100,000 people. In 2016, homicide across the country fell by 20 percent, but there were still 5,278 murders for the year, Reuters reported. The country has also seen a spike in the number of corruption cases levied against those who hold power in the highest offices of the country.

In an effort to help curb the violence, the U.S. has sent $98 million in aid to El Salvador’s government, Reuters reports.

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The $98 million, which was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2015, is part of a larger plan — the Alliance for Prosperity Plan in the Northern Triangle of Central America — designed to reduce gang crime and corruption in El Salvador and Central America. According to White House archives, the money will fund programs that will “better address the needs of those threatened by criminal gang violence and domestic violence, human rights defenders who have been targeted, and others.” However, U.S. intervention in Central America’s affairs is based on domestic concerns as much as it is in humanitarian interests in El Salvador.

Over the last few years, the U.S. has seen a surge of immigration from those looking to escape gang violence in El Salvador.

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In El Salvador, violence between gangs, including MS13 and Barrio 18 — which were founded in the U.S. — has affected much of the country. Families of gang members can find themselves targets of retaliation and bystanders can find themselves caught up in the violence as well, leading to countless deaths.

To escape these conditions, many citizens have fled the country, often to the U.S, the New York Times reports. In some cases, gang members tired of the continual violence in El Salvador have also fled to the U.S. Part of Congress’s approved plan, according to the White House archives, is to develop “cooperation between the United States and Central America to ensure that fewer migrants embark on the dangerous journey to the United States.”

Attorney General Douglas Meléndez is leading the charge against El Salvador’s political corruption, the Washington Post reports.

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The money granted to El Salvador was also designated to combat corruption in the nation’s government, which plagued the previous administration. Current Attorney General Douglas Meléndez has filed corruption cases against many officials, including a case against former Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes. Meléndez’s attempts to crackdown on corruption are in stark contrast to previous Attorney General Luís Martínez, who facilitated fraudulent and corrupt behavior among Salvadoran politicians and elites.

To combat gangs, police forces in El Salvador have been given freedom to use excessive force, Reuters reports.

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In 2012 and 2013, the gangs in El Salvador declared a truce, leading to a dramatic reduction in the number of murders in the country. The truce “dissolved” in 2013, according to the Associated Press, and those officials responsible are now facing charges, saying the pact led to “illicit negotiations” between government officials and gang members. The terms of the truce may have led to less murders, but it also gave gangs more power in the long run, the New York Times reported.

By 2014, gang violence resumed in El Salvador, but this time, according to Reuters, the Salvadoran police were allowed to attack gangs “without any fear of suffering consequences.” This approach led to countless deaths among citizens at the hands of brutal authorities. Juanita Ortega, whose son who was killed by police, told the Guardian in February, “I tell you sincerely, we fear the soldiers more than we ever feared the gangsters.”

Whether or not the Northern Triangle’s Alliance for Prosperity Plan succeeds, one thing is for sure: El Salvador needs help.


This past January, The Guardian reported that El Salvador experienced a dubious distinction: it had its first day without a murder in two years. Though the country is fighting back against both corruption and violence, we’re still a long way from finding out the impact this $98 million will have in the fight for the country’s future.

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

El Salvador has held its midterm elections two years into the term of President Nayib Bukele and the president has been handed a major victory. Although Bukele’s name was not on the ballot, Nuevas Ideas candidates relied on their connection to the conservative president, and his image was plastered on campaign posters around the country.

The strong showing for Nuevas Ideas came despite allegations of voting fraud from Bukele and other party members. While, international commmentators point out that with his new supermajority, there are very few checks on Bukele’s power.

President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party wins a supermajority during midterm elections.

In what many are calling a first test for President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas political party, the midterm elections delivered a landslide victory to the president and his party. With more than half the votes counted, the president’s party won a supermajority of at least 61 out of 84 seats in the country’s Legislative Assembly.

The midterm elections have completely upended the traditional political system that has existed in the country since the 1994 peace agreement. Not once has a single party had such a major victory. These elections also represent the collapse of the two-party system that has governed El Salvador for more than 25 years.

With the added votes of the GANA party, a small party that has pledged loyalty to the president, supporters of Bukele will control over 70% of the legislature, effectively removing all limits on the 39-year-old president’s ability to implement his agenda.

The election results remove any checks the authoritative president once faced.

Bukele will become the country’s most powerful leader in decades following these results, which is causing alarm among administration officials in Washington. Joe Biden’s administration has already voiced “worries” over Bukele’s tactics. These have included disobeying supreme court rulings and sending troops into the national assembly to coerce legislators into approving his spending plans.

Even before official results were in, the 39-year-old president, an ally of former US president Donald Trump, tweeted “VICTORY” over images of fireworks.

Bukele’s harsh crackdown on gang violence and his adept social media campaigns against corruption and traditional politics have made him popular with Salvadorans who are tired of endemic violence in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

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Evelyn Hernandez – A Rape Survivor – Was Imprisoned Under Anti-Abortion Laws, Now She’s A Free Woman

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Evelyn Hernandez – A Rape Survivor – Was Imprisoned Under Anti-Abortion Laws, Now She’s A Free Woman

It’s no secret that countries across Latin America have some of the strictest abortion laws in the world – El Salvador is no exception. In fact, it’s the only known country that that regularly prosecutes and imprisons women as a result of its abortion ban – even in cases where the women suffered  miscarriages, stillbirths and other obstetric emergencies.

But over the last decade, activists, lawyers, and international women’s groups have rallied behind Salvadoran women imprisoned for “obstetric emergencies.” Since 2009, more than 38 women have been released from jail, 16 remain incarcerated, and at least three — including Evelyn Hernandez — are in the middle of legal proceedings.

Evelyn Hernandez, of El Salvador, has been found innocent after a retrial.

Evelyn Hernandez’s case had made international headlines when she was tried for homicide charges after experiencing a stillbirth – when she didn’t even know she was pregnant.

But after years of maintains her innocence of any wrongdoing, Hernandez has finally been found innocent by El Salvador’s judicial system.

“I was made the victim of a justice system that is anything but just. I know that there are countless other women who have experienced the same in a country where miscarriages are still considered a crime and reproductive rights are nonexistent. We must stand up and demand that the Salvadoran government release all the remaining women who have been wrongfully put behind bars like me. The fight does not end here,” Hernandez said after the trial.

Her defense attorney added in a tweet, “I am about to explode with happiness.”

Amnesty International described the verdict as a “resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador” and called on the government to “end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women”.

El Salvador has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world.

Since 1998, El Salvador has had a complete and total ban on abortion – with zero exceptions – including in cases where the woman’s life is at risk for the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. In fact, El Salavador is the only known country that regularly prosecutes and imprisons women as a result of its abortion ban – even in cases where the women suffered  miscarriages, stillbirths and other obstetric emergencies.

Typically, women found guilty face between two and eight years in jail but in many cases – as was the case with Evelyn – charges are increased to aggravate homicide, which carries a minimum sentence of 30 years.

Today, more than 20 women are in prison under trumped up charges of manslaughter, homicide, or aggravated homicide after being accused of having an abortion. In total, at least 50 women have been imprisoned.

Evelyn’s case had been in the headlines for years after repeated appeals by prosecutors.

Evelyn’s case started when she was a victim of sexual violence in her community – having allegedly been raped by a gang member at 18-years-old.

She was first arrested after the body of her baby was found on the property of her rural home. Evelyn says she had experienced severe stomach pains and bleeding and went to the toilet, where she passed out. It’s here where her baby was stillborn. But in 2017, a judge ruled that Evelyn knew she was pregnant and tried to conceal the baby’s birth. She was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison, of which she has already served 33 months.

In July 2017, the judge ruled that Ms Hernández knew she was pregnant and found her guilty. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison of which she has already served 33 months.

Evelyn’s lawyers appealed the judge’s decision. They said forensic tests showed that the baby had died of meconium aspiration, inhaling his own stool. This can happen while the baby is still in the uterus, during delivery or immediately after birth. 

The lawyers said the test proved that Evelyn had not tried to abort the baby but that it had died of natural causes. “There is no crime,” defense lawyer Bertha María Deleón said during oral arguments. In 2019, the country’s Supreme Court agreed and annulled Evelyn’s 2017 conviction and ordered a retrial with a new judge.

Evelyn’s case could have a major impact on several other women across the country accused of similar crimes.

Credit: Oscar Rivera / Getty Images

According to human rights experts, there are at least 17 other women who have been jailed under the country’s strict abortion laws. Campaigners have successfully managed to free about 30 other women over the last decade  – after winning hard-fought court cases.

Evelyn’s retrial is the first case to be heard under new President Nayib Bukele, who took office in June, and women’s groups are hoping he could usher in a more lenient stance on the issue. 

President Bukele has said that he opposes abortion but has expressed sympathy with women suffering miscarriages who then come under suspicion.

“If a poor woman suffers a miscarriage, she’s immediately suspected of having had an abortion. That’s where the issue of social inequality comes into play,” he said while he was running for president.

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