El Salvador has emerged as the safest country in Latin America, boasting a homicide rate of 2.2 per 100,000 inhabitants up to July 2023. This achievement stands in stark contrast to the grim statistics from just a few years ago, when the country was plagued by violent crime and insecurity. The success can be attributed to the visionary security strategies set in motion by President Nayib Bukele’s administration.
Not too long ago, El Salvador faced a staggering homicide rate of 106 per 100,000 inhabitants back in 2015, during the tenure of one of the FMLN governments. Those years were characterized by the government ceding control of certain municipalities to criminal gangs, exacerbating the security crisis. Fast forward to 2023, and the landscape has drastically changed.
President Nayib Bukele took to social media platform “X” to proudly declare, “July 2023 closes as the safest month in the history of El Salvador. If we annualize the homicide rate from January to July, El Salvador (once considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world) would have an annual homicide rate of 2.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. The safest country in the Americas.”
The transformation is largely attributed to the resounding success of the Plan Control Territorial, launched in June 2019, and the unyielding efforts to combat criminal gangs head-on. By March 27, 2022, these initiatives have effectively curbed violent deaths caused by criminal structures, turning the tide on a once-pervasive issue that still plagues other Central and South American nations.
Contrasting with El Salvador’s triumph, countries like Colombia have struggled to keep their homicide rates in check, maintaining an average of 25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants since the previous year. Similarly, Mexico grapples with an alarming average of 83 daily homicides, and Honduras registers a crime rate of 19 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Gustavo Villatoro, the Minister of Justice and Security, spoke candidly in the wake of a tragic event in Ecuador, stating, “It’s tough to witness the bloodshed in other countries where the government fails to protect its people from criminal hands. To think that we lived through that for years. But in El Salvador, we are no longer the same. Since President Nayib Bukele’s administration began, we have gone 426 days without homicides, and we continue to progress.”
Villatoro further emphasized that the current government has ushered in a transformative era in security. The commitment to be strong and unwavering against criminal groups, colloquially referred to as “mareros,” and all forms of crime, is an integral part of this ongoing transformation. “It’s all part of the evolution our country is experiencing, as we have a government that seeks justice for the victims.”
With the astute security strategy in place, El Salvador has shed the days of mourning and fear for its law-abiding citizens. The times of ARENA and FMLN governments, marked by the dominance and threat of terrorist groups, are now firmly behind them.
Today, Salvadorans carry out their daily activities in an environment of peace and tranquility. Citizens move from one neighborhood to another without the fear of being assaulted by gang members. Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, the Director of the National Civil Police, recently stated that these improvements in security mark a historic moment for the country and serve as an example to other Latin American nations. “The strategies led by President Nayib Bukele have resulted in a strengthened state. Finally, El Salvador has the capacity to protect the lives of its honorable citizens, a right that was denied to the people for years,” Arriaza Chicas declared.