Salvadoran Legislators approve the fifth extension of the State of Exception

By Karla Ramos  |  Aug 17th, 2022
Salvadoran Legislative Assembly
Salvadoran Congress in Session.

At the request of Presiden Bukele’s security cabinet, the Salvadoran legislature approved the extension of the State of Exception emergency regime for the fifth consecutive time.

The Minister of Security, Gustavo Villatoro, arrived at the Legislative Assembly on August 16th, accompanied by the Minister of Defense, Rene Francis Merino Monroy, and the director of the National Civil Police, Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, to present the fifth request for an extension.

The Bukele Government maintains that the exception regime is necessary to continue the operational security activities needed to apprehend the remaining gang members still out in the territory.

With 66 votes in favor and 12 against, the extension passed as expected. Before and after the vote, legislators spoke in favor and against the extension.

Minister of Security Gustavo Villatoro stated that thanks to the state of emergency that has been in place since March 27th, 2022, the country’s homicide rate has plunged, and other illicit activities perpetuated by gangs have declined.

Minister Villatoro also detailed what the security measure has achieved thus far; more than 49,000 alleged gang members captured; 1,310 weapons seized; 1,551 vehicles seized, and more than one million dollars in cash confiscated.

The results of the exception regime are undeniable. The economy has benefited from the security we now live in. Entrepreneurs and merchants report large savings because they no longer pay extortion, and sources of employment have been created.” Deputy Ernesto Castro.

Opposing legislators argued that the extension is not necessary as the government already has the legal tools to fight gangs without the need for the state of exception.

I want to emphasize that the Government does not need an exceptional regime to combat crime, they have all the legal tools, but they do need it to continue favoring officials and their families with million-dollar contracts.” Dina Argueta, FMLN deputy.

Despite the denunciations of human rights violations by local and international organizations, many legislators have assured that the emergency regime would not stop until all gang members get taken off the streets.