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Gellman on El Salvador’s ‘State of Exception’: Harvard Review of Latin America

Mneesha Gellman, Associate Professor of comparative politics in the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies, writes about the repercussions of the State of Exception implemented in El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele in ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America.

Bukele’s Régimen de Excepción, declared in March 2022 following an intense burst of gang violence, has suspended constitutional rights in the country. It has led to the arrest and detention of thousands of innocent people, including LGBTQ+ and poor people, and is being used as a tool to coerce women into sexual relations, among other consequences, Gellman writes.

El Salvador’s territory is roughly the size of Massachusetts, a state of 6.9 million people that has an incarcerated population of approximately 16,000 people across all its prisons, jails, and detention centers in 2023. In contrast, El Salvador, population 6.3 million, now has at least 104,000 people incarcerated, meaning that nearly two percent of its entire population is incarcerated in some form. Despite these high incarceration numbers, gangs have not, as some reports have claimed, been broken.

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