October 28, 2020

A group of 1,400 Salvadoran military members join Bukele’s security plan

A group of 1,400 Salvadoran soldiers were added to a security plan against gangs on Tuesday, which has generated a confrontation between President Nayib Bukele and the Legislative Assembly for the lack of approval of a loan to finance the third phase.

Bukele announced the incorporation of the elements of the Armed Forces in the security tasks, contemplated in the Territorial Control Plan, to support the agents of the National Civil Police (PNC).

“These are difficult days in which you have decided to support and protect the Salvadoran people, in which we know that most politicians are protecting criminals. Difficult days in which we know that deputies and former ministers financed the criminals that you are going to have to pursue and capture, “said the president during the official ceremony held at Plaza Gerardo Barrios, in San Salvador.

Bukele, who withdrew from the place without giving statements to the press, said that the incorporation of the military occurs at a time when deputies (of Congress) “deny financial resources to provide bulletproof vests, uniforms, helmets, botos and night visors “.

“When criminals ask (deputies) for money to kill Salvadorans they say yes, but when they ask for money for a ship to fight drug trafficking they say no. They are difficult days because we have to face not only this factual power called crime , but to this great formal power of traditional politicians, who hide in the Legislative Assembly, “he said.

The 1,400 military agents received a course as part of the Armed Forces Regular Training Plan. A first group of 400 soldiers completed the training in November 2019, while the rest ended in December.

So far it is unknown how many soldiers accompany the police in security tasks.

The Territorial Control Plan was launched in June 2019 and the first two phases, as recently assured by the Salvadoran president, were financed with the Government’s own resources, so for the third phase the Executive requested a loan of 109 million dollars.

The money was granted in October last year by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), but it must be endorsed with the votes of 56 deputies, qualified majority, in Congress.

The lack of this approval led Bukele to pressure the parliamentarians, to the point that on February 9 the president broke into the headquarters of the Legislative body with military and police, and with threats of an insurrection of the people.

This action was condemned by different sectors of Salvadoran society and the international community.


When the Territorial Control Plan was launched, various organizations warned of possible human rights violations that could be generated by taking military men to the streets for security work.

According to security expert Jeannette Aguilar, Bukele has placed the Army as the main protagonist of its security strategy, an institution that is not only presented as its greatest weapon against gangs, but also as a shield against its adversaries.

In practice, the president is replicating exactly the same as his adversaries “in terms of” adopting a hard-handed policy that is used for political marketing with an increase of the Army in the streets, which in the end is not justified in light of no national emergency, “he said during a recent interview with Efe.

But the exaltation of the military, in a country where the Army has a long history of human rights violations, and the “massification” of recruitment of young people not only due to reasons of citizen security strategy, but “can respond to the need to strengthen a political alliance with the Army in the face of scenarios where the government can be fragile against the dissent or accusations of different groups, “he said.


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