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Security & Strategic Review - October 2021

EL SALVADOR: New allegations involving Bukele’s dealings with gangs

In late August, Salvadorean investigative media El Faro published a report citing an investigation which found that the Nuevas Ideas (NI) government led by President Nayib Bukele had held negotiations in maximum-security prisons in 2020 with the country’s three main street gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 Revolucionarios, and Barrio 18 Sureños. Just over a year earlier, the same media alleged that Bukele had held talks with MS-13 alone. The new claims, which the government rejects, cast further doubt over the success of its security plan (which Bukele has trumpeted as the reason behind the drop in homicides), suggesting instead that it is the gangs which are calling the shots.

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