President Nayib Bukele security plan. “Territorial control plan”

By Eddie Galdamez
Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
Nayib Bukele security plan

President Nayib Bukele security plan or Territorial control plan has seven phases. The first three are focus on gaining control of the Salvadoran territory, the social reconstruction of communities, and the modernizing of the police. Phases four to seven are unknown.

The government will implement these security phases at different times during the Bukele administration. Phase one of the security plan went into effect soon after President Bukele began his term in office, with phase two following shortly after.

History of homicides in El Salvador.

El Salvador has had to deal with violent crime since the end of the civil war. In 2015, the violence reached such levels that many news outlets began referring to El Salvador as the capital murder of the world. ABC News wrote, “The world’s “murder capital” has nearly one homicide an hour.”

The year 2015 registered two of the most violent months since 1991. In March 2015, El Salvador recorded a total of 481 homicides, which are 15.5 per day. The previous record for homicides was October 2009, with 437 murders, which results in a rate of 14.1 deaths per day.

May 2015, broke the homicide record set two months earlier. The National police registered a total of 635 in May, which is 20.5 murders a day.

Homicides in El Salvador since 2010.

Year Total Daily
Early April
244 2.5
2020 1322 3.7
2019 2390 6.6
2018 3340 9.15
2017 3954 10.83
2016 5289 14.49
2015 6666 18.26
2014 3912 10.71
2013 2499 6.84
2012 2594 7.10
2011 4371 11.97
2010 4004 10.96
Control territorial plan

Breakdown of El Salvador’s homicide rate since Nayib Bukele became his term as president in June 2019.

Month 2019 2020 2021
January 9.3 3.9 3.7
February 7.4 3.9 4.0
March 7.7 2.1 3.5
April 10.8 4.8
May 9.2 2.1
June 7.7 2.3
July 5.0 3.7
August 4.2 4.0
September 4.9 4.4
October 4.0 5.1
November 4.6 3.3
December 4.1 3.7
** Red is President Salvador Sanchez Ceren Administration FMLN.

Phases of Bukele’s territorial control plan.

Nayib Bukele’s territorial control plan consists of seven phases; the first three are called preparation, opportunity, and modernization. Phases four to seven will be announced at a later time. This security plan aims to dismantle gangs and organized crime in El Salvador. The first three phases have an estimated cost of $575 million.

Phase one: Preparation.

In phase one, the government’s goal was to take control of the territory and cut off communications from maximum security jails. The first phase consisted of increasing military and police presence in municipalities determined to have the largest gang and organized crime presence.

Part of phase one includes taking control of Salvadoran jails and cutting off communications. To accomplish this, President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency in all Salvadoran prisons.

Harder measures.

Towards the end of June 2019, prison officials found gang manuscripts ordering attacks against police agents, and after a police officer was murdered. President Nayib Bukele ordered that no inmate was going to be allowed to leave their cells.

Cutting off communications from jails

Phone companies were against cutting off communications from Jails; this was a lucrative business for them. Each inmate was allowed $100 a month on phone calls.

Phone companies never completely blocked their cellular signal in prisons as they were required to do. Therefore, Nayib Bukele gave the phone companies 72 hours to completely block the cellular signal, or they were going to be fined.

Transfer of Inmates

As part of the Territorial Control Plan phase one, hight ranking gang leaders and those suspected of ordering homicides from jail were transferred to maximum-security prisons. Also, all jails became mixed. El Salvador was no longer going to have exclusive jails for gang members.

Nayib Bukele security plan
Photo by: @SecPrensaSV

Phase two. Opportunity, the social reconstruction of communities.

Phase two of the security plan involved the social reconstruction of communities and the training of young people. President Bukele has said on many occasions that he wants to give young people other options other than joining gangs.

To eliminate gangs, the president believes that we have to make it difficult for criminal organizations to recruit new members. One way of doing this is by giving young people alternatives to become gang members.

“This is the phase where we allow our young people to get out of the gangs. That is not going to lead to anything good, here they have a range of opportunities.”
President Nayib Bukele.

During phase two, the president is looking to train individuals in different fields so they can find suitable employment; therefore, staying away from criminal organizations.

Phase two involves the creation of community centers (Cubes) where young people can spend time on activities that will keep them away from gangs.

Phase two has not started fully yet. The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly is not willing to provide the funding needed for this phase.

Phase three. The modernization of security forces.

Phase three involves the modernization of the equipment security forces uses, as well as video cameras. The president wants to modernize the police by giving them modern equipment to fight organized crime.

The implementation of this security phase is uncertain as the Legislative Assembly does not want to approve the funds needed for this phase.
The president and the General Assembly have been at odds with each other concerning the financing of phase three.

On February 9th, 2020, the president held a rally outside the Assembly to pressure them to approve the funds. Bukele entered the Legislative Assembly’s chamber for a few minutes and prayed; nonetheless, he has encountered backlash, mostly because of some armed army personal went in with him.

Since the February 9th incident, President Bukele has affirmed that he respects the Salvadoran balance of powers.

President Bukele, on many occasions, has said that the General Assembly does not care about the nation’s security. Surely, his comments are based on them not willing to approve the phase three financing.

Phases four to seven of the Nayib Bukele security plan.

These phases are to be implemented once the first three phases take effect. As of right now, these phases have not been made public. Only President Nayib Bukele and some in the administration close to him know about them.

Security Plan
Photo by: @DefensaSV

Nayib Bukele security plan.

As of August 1st, 2020, the security plan has been in implementation for about fourteen months. During this period, the security plan has produced excellent results, especially lowering the daily murder rate.

Nowadays, El Salvador has the lowest murder rate since the civil war ended. According to President Bukele and other experts, the security plan implemented by his administration is responsible for that.

Polls show that most Salvadorans agree that the president is doing an excellent job on security. Furthermore, the surveys reveal that Salvadorans think that the drop in murders is due to Bukele’s security plan.

“One year after the implementation of the Territorial Control Plan, historically violent cities such as Soyapango, Mejicanos, Apopa, Ilopango, Santa Ana and San Martin reflect decreases of up to 80% in homicides”
Rogelio Rivas.

The Opposition of Nayib Bukele security plan.

Even with these numbers, some people from the opposition believe that this is a smokescreen from the current administration. Political parties such as the FMLN and ARENA believe the country is not safer than before.

Many organizations, local and international, have questioned why this security plan is working for President Nayib Bukele. If it didn’t work from previous administrations that had similar security measures.

Nayib Bukele has answered the question saying that it is one thing to say that you are going to do something and another to actually do it.

The current administration believes that the security measures announced by previous administrations were never enforced. There are videos of public officials such as Norman Quijano, Ernesto Muyshondt, and others negotiating with gangs.

Furthermore, there are photos of gang members using army facilities to train how to shot. This happened under the watch of ex-president Salvador Sanchez Ceren and defense minister Munguia Payes.

Rogelio Rivas, the current Minister of Justice and Public Security, along with Merino Monroy, the defense minister, have hinted the following. “How can you reduce crime when public officials are doing business with criminals.”

El Salvador Government