In 2023, El Salvador’s homicide rate stands at 0.41 per day, equivalent to 2.4 murders per 100,000 inhabitants; it marks a significant decrease of 71.4% compared to the same period in 2022, resulting in 344 fewer murders.
In 2022, the daily murder rate in El Salvador was 1.36, equivalent to 7.8 homicides per 100,000 people. The year 2022 concluded with 496 homicides, reflecting a notable decrease of 56.9% compared to the preceding year.
2022 marked the safest year in El Salvador since 1992, the end of the 1980s civil war. Nevertheless, the statistics for 2023 indicate that it may not maintain its status as the safest year.
|Year||Total Homicides||Daily Homicide Rate||Homicides per 100,000 Inhabitants|
(Jan 1 to Dec 3)
The homicide stats for 2022 and 2023 do not include the deaths of alleged gang members that have died in confrontations with Salvadoran security forces;
120 deaths in 2022 and 40 thus far in 2023.
The government launched the Territorial Control Plan security measure in June 2019; its purpose has been to crack down on the country’s violence and gangs.
Then, in March 2022, the Bukele administration introduced the controversial State of Exception, a direct attack on Salvadoran criminal gangs.
The Territorial Control Plan and State of Exception have drastically reduced homicides in El Salvador.
2022, the third full year of President Nayib Bukele in office, registered the lowest number of homicides in El Salvador. This year, El Salvador’s homicide rate dropped to 7.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Compared to what the country experienced in the previous 30 years, this reduction is an immense achievement for the current administration.
Homicide Rate Under the Bukele Administration
President Nayib Bukele took office on June 1, 2019, and one of the first items on his agenda was launching his security plan, the territorial control plan, to fight gangs and reduce the country’s violence.
2020, the first full year of Nayib Bukele in office, set a low record in homicides; it reduced it to 21.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants or 3.66 per day.
The record for the lowest number of homicides in 2020 was surpassed in 2021 and once more in 2022, and is on its way to being broken again in 2023.
President Bukele and his administration credit the homicide reduction to their security measures. However, members of Bukele’s opposition and the U.S. government alleged that this reduction resulted from a secret truce between gangs and the Bukele administration.
On December 8th, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a press release announcing sanctions against two members of Bukele’s cabinet due to these alleged negotiations with gangs.
President Nayib Bukele has criticized the U.S. accusations against members of his cabinet. The members of the Bukele cabinet accused have not made any public remarks regarding the U.S. allegations.
In other words, our actions against crime do not have the backing of the current US Government. That is why we did not receive recognition for the large drug seizures nor for the reduction in homicides (recognized even by the opposition media). President Nayib Bukele.
El Salvador’s Homicide Rate Since 1991
Since 1991, El Salvador has been one of the most violent countries in the world, not at war. The country entered the list of the top 20 countries with a high homicide rate in 1994. It quickly jumped to the first position and maintained that position until 2000.
In 2009, El Salvador again reached the first position and kept it until mid-2010, when Honduras jumped to number one. Then, in 2015, it reached the first position again; this time, it maintained the rank until late 2019.
Finally, around mid to late 2021, El Salvador left the list of the top 20 countries with the highest homicide rate per 100,000 people. High homicide rates are one of the most common challenges El Salvador has faced in the last 30-plus years.