El Salvador’s homicide rate in 2021 was 3.1 per day or 18 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants; it is a substantial decline from the previous year. The Murder rate in El Salvador has steadily dropped since its worst year in 2015, which had 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants or 18.2 murders per day.
Since taking office on June 1st, 2019, President Nayib Bukele introduced his security measures to crack down on the country’s violence.
2020 and 2021, the first two full years of the Bukele administration, set an unprecedented reduction in homicides in El Salvador compared to previous years or the infamous 2015. This downward trend continues in 2022.
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The above 2022 stats might be different than government stats; it includes the death of alleged criminals killed in a confrontation with Salvadoran security forces.
2021, the second full year of President Nayib Bukele in office, set a low record in the number of homicides in El Salvador.
This reduction is an immense achievement for the current administration if compared to what the country experienced in the previous 10 years.
Also, in 2021, El Salvador was out of the top 20 countries with the highest homicide rate in the world. The country had been part of this notorious list since 1994.
2015 Produced a Record High in Homicides in El Salvador
In 2015, El Salvador experienced a surge in violence not seen since the mid to late 1990s. This year, the average homicide rate was 104 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants; an average of 18.2 people died daily from homicide.
This record high in homicides was staggering, considering that the population of El Salvador was 6.3 million in 2015. This year, El Salvador became known as the “Murder Capital of the World.”
United States ABC News reported that “
In El Salvador, the Murder Capital of the World, Gang Violence Becomes a Way of Life.”
United Kingdon the Guardian reported the following, “
One murder every hour: how El Salvador became the homicide capital of the world.”
In 2012, the FMLN government of Funes secretly negotiated a truce between the gangs in order to reduce the number of homicides.
The 2012 truce initially drastically reduced murders compared to the previous two years. However, the homicides spiked once the truce was over in late 2014.
Leaders of five of El Salvador’s powerful gangs say they will stop attacking police and military in a bid to re-launch a gang truce agreed two years ago. The gangs want the government to provide negotiating facilities and promise to avoid civilian attacks.” BBC News Report, August 2014.
By increasing murders in 2015 and 2016, the gangs were looking to pressure the government into giving them back the benefits they had during the Funes administration.
Homicide Rate under the Bukele Administration
President Nayib Bukele took office on June 1st, 2019, one of the first items on his agenda was launching his security plan, the territorial control plan.
2020, the first full year of Nayib Bukele in office, set a low record in homicides; it reduced it to 20 murders per 100,000 inhabitants or 3.7 per day.
The 2020 murder rate was 44.4% less than in 2019, a year that Bukele only was in charge for six months. It was also 60.0% less than 2018, the last full year of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren’s administration.
President Bukele and his administration credit the homicide reduction to the Territorial Control Plan. However, members of Bukele’s opposition and the
US government credit the reduction to 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 concerning negotiations with gangs.
“Osiris Luna Meza (Luna) and Carlos Amilcar Marroquin Chica (Marroquin) led, facilitated, and organized a number of secret meetings involving incarcerated gang leaders, in which known gang members were allowed to enter the prison facilities and meet with senior gang leadership. These meetings were part of the Government of El Salvador’s efforts to negotiate a secret truce with gang leadership.”
U.S. Department of the Treasury.
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. December 2021.
El Salvador’s Homicide rate since 1991
Since 1991, El Salvador has been one of the most violent countries in the world, not in a war.
entered the list of the top 20 countries with a high homicide rate in 1994 (Homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants.) 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.