The normality of abnormality : extraordinary measures and the militarization of public security in El Salvador post-2016




Beltrán Girón, Joanna del Carmen

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In 1992, the U.S.-backed Salvadoran military and the leftist guerillas signed the Chapultepec Peace Accords which put an end to a 12-year civil war that resulted in 75,000 deaths, 9,000 forced disappearances and half a million internal displacements. Around 85% of the reports made by survivors of the civil war attributed the violence they experienced to state agents, paramilitary groups and death squads¹. In a ‘postwar’ era, militarization of El Salvador has remained an institutional open wound. In 2008, the right-wing ARENA² party signed a decree that established the participation of members of the Fuerza Armada de El Salvador (FAES) in civil security. In 2009, six months after the historic victory of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), the recently elected President Mauricio Funes (2009-2014) signed a decree that established the continuation of joint police-military task forces in public security. Around this time, the military budget and funding increased in conjunction with more frequent reports of abuse of authority and human rights violations by the police and military. This institutional collaboration between the FAES and the Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) was justified under the notion that “the Armed Force will support the national police [in the event that] the resources and efforts of the police are insufficient to reduce crime.”³ Despite this haunting legacy of a repressive Salvadoran military and the antagonistic history the military has had with revolutionary leftist groups, the FMLN government has relied on joint police-military task forces to ensure public security, and paradoxically, promote civil security and ‘peace.’ That the FMLN has re-ignited the FAES in public security is a contradiction. My thesis will discuss this paradox that speaks to the larger economic and societal structures that uphold militarization in El Salvador


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