What's actually happening in El Salvador?
Nayib Bukele's "Iron Fist" seems to be working where previous iterations have failed, but nobody knows why
Here’s an interesting thought experiment: What if the leader of an infamously violent and crime-ridden country was able to massively improve public safety by violating liberal norms regarding human rights and the rule of law?
It’s such an interesting thought experiment that two recent articles have asked essentially that question about El Salvador. One by Natalie Kitroeff in the New York Times asks “El Salvador Decimated Its Ruthless Gangs. But at What Cost?” Another, by Zack Beauchamp in Vox, is headlined “Meet the MAGA movement’s new favorite autocrat.”
It should be said that this conversation seems to be downstream of an article by Salvadoran journalists Carlos Martínez, Efren Lemus, and Óscar Martínez, who wrote on February 3 in El Faro that the stranglehold MS-13 and Barrio 18 once held over the country has been broken. The El Faro piece is important for two reasons. One is that the journalists are claiming that President Nayib Bukele’s crackdown on gangs has essentially worked. T…