El Salvador: From the 1800s, US troops have intervened numerous times in Latin America. The causes of these interventions reflect the United States’ motivations as it expanded from a strong, large republic, to an overseas empire at the expense of its smaller, weaker neighbors.
But fortunately, Latin American countries have started to be aware of the pitfalls of America’s so called ‘humanitarian intervention’. Now, they have started to pushback against any attempts of interference in their domestic affairs.
El Salvador’s crackdown on gangs
Gangs rule the street in El Salvador.
Several people have been attacked by the maras, as the local gangs are known, for refusing to fulfill extortion demands. The maras operate brazenly on their street, committing murders, rapes, and shakedowns.
Now, in a breakthrough, President Nayib Bukele began an extraordinary and ruthless assault on gangs in March. It includes swiftly picking them up from the streets then, throwing them into prisons. The situation has drastically shifted.
The crackdown on El Salvador’s notorious gangs has drastically reduced murders. In one of the most crime-ridden countries in the Western hemisphere, people can now safely walk the streets.
With nearly 2% of its adult population behind bars, El Salvador has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It recently inaugurated one of the region’s largest prisons, with a capacity for 40,000 inmates.
In 2022 homicides fell 57% to 495, from 1,147 in 2021, according to government figures. Extortion, one of the gangs’ primary sources of income, has plummeted, many residents say. By August of last year, the transportation minister estimated bus companies had already saved around $50 million from not paying extortions.
US is miffed
There’ a widespread support for the anti-gang offensive and for Bukele. A December survey found 87.8% of voters approved of him, making him the most popular president on the continent.
The US Government DOES NOT stand for freedom and that is a proven fact.
So we will stand for freedom.
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) March 24, 2022
The US sanctioned several Central American officials it accused of possible corruption in their respective countries. It includes two politicians close to El Salvador President Nayib Bukele.
This was all an attempt to intimidate President Bukele into kowtowing to American demands.
But American policy makers are naive if they believe they can coerce Bukele to follow their diktats. He’s a new gen leader for whom his nation’s interests are paramount. Recently the country’s security minister announced that El Salvador state of emergency to combat gangs will be maintained until all criminals are captured.
‘No’ to Haiti like fate
Well, El-Salvador has clearly learnt from the Haitian experience. Street gangs in Haiti are terrorizing the population and cutting off access to Haiti’s ports, most crucially the one that receives and stores Haiti’s imports of oil and gas.
Those gangs are, by necessity, allied with and financed by Haiti’s tiny clique of import-export oligarchs, who use them as muscle to grab territory and settle scores.
In the nearly 90 years since that first U.S. occupation ended, U.S. and U.S.-backed forces have remained the most constant factor in Haiti: training and arming Haitian militaries, meddling in elections, and alternately reinstalling and overthrowing Haiti’s leaders. All these in the name of humanitarian intervention yet, one sees any ounce of humanity in Haiti.
The authorities in El Salvador know this. They are right to not succumb to pressures from America and thereby turn their nation into another Haiti.