Associate professor and scholar of comparative politics and violence Mneesha Gellman writes for the academic news site The Conversation about the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador, which President Nayib Bukele is poised to win again.
Gellman says while Salvadorans feel safer, the price of that is democracy.
I’ve spoken with dozens of civil society stakeholders – including human rights workers, journalists, former lawmakers and current government employees – who say that the picture of an eminently safer El Salvador doesn’t reflect the lives of Salvadorans living behind bars or in communities exploited by police and armed forces.
Still, on Feb. 4, Salvadorans are likely to overlook those abuses and cast their vote in favor of security for the majority. And, to some extent, who can blame them? After years of civil war and then gang war, many Salvadorans are traumatized by violence. The promise of safety is compelling, even if it means living in a dictatorship.
And in NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America), Gellman writes of how the press is under attack under Bukele’s regime:
The discovery that Pegasus spyware had been placed on multiple El Faro journalists’ phones led to a major lawsuit and showed the extent Salvadoran actors would go to intervene in the freedom of the press. In February 2022, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly approved a penal code reform that legitimized digital spying, all part of Bukele’s consolidation of power. Some Salvadoran journalists have fled the country.