I like to look up El Salvador news often just to stay current with what's going on over there wether it's related to Bitcoin or not, and I invariably see the same kinds of things every time; articles about how the "crackdown" has imposed a "human cost" which is too high and how innocent people are getting swept up.
So I thought I'd share a conversation I had recently with a woman from the janitorial staff at my office building who comes from El Salvador.
She tells me that she left the country because it was too dangerous for her, but before leaving she used most of her life savings to buy a house for her adult daughter who decided to stay. That was 20 years ago.
Since then, she has never been able to visit the house she owns where her daughter lives. If she visits #ElSalvador, she must stay with friends in neutral territory and have her daughter visit during the day, never at night. Since they can't get approval from the local gang to enter the neighborhood this is how it was for 20 years, until Bukele was elected and the massive clean-up started.
In June 2022, for the first time ever, she went to her own house, visited her daughter at home without anyone's permission needed, walked around the neighborhood for hours, well into the night, and even caught a pickup soccer game at the local pitch which had previously been off limits to everyone but the gang members. She says the entire neighborhood was there, cheering, talking, laughing. She says her daughter was particularly happy about was being able to order pizza delivery for the first time ever as drivers couldn't enter gang territory before.
The joy on her face as she's telling me all of this is amazing. And she's not the only one. Over 4000 homes have been returned to their rightful owners in the last 12 months. This number alone exceeds the amount of human rights complaints that have been brought by rights groups, and doesn't include the lives saved, the money saved by no longer having rampant extortion, the massive improvement in quality of life from being able to travel freely, the economic growth from new areas of the map being unlocked and available to businesses, new markets to be served, new businesses springing up which couldn't under gang rule, and importantly (this one will be hard for 1st worlders to really grasp) the peace of mind that makes life enjoyable in the first place. Literally the second layer of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Look, with over 66k arrests in 1 year, I absolutely understand that innocent people are being swept up, and that is a very bad thing indeed, something to avoid as much as possible. But I come from Caracas. I know what it's like to live in fear, a half-life, never being able to do things that I now completely take for granted in my new 1st world home, like literally just walking in the streets of my neighborhood, going to the store, talking on the phone in public and even just having 1 phone instead of the real phone and the decoy phone to give muggers when they come, and they always do.
Bukele is not perfect, his people are not perfect, the state of exception is not perfect, nothing about the security policy is perfect. But the benefits are real, tangible, they reach far and wide. They are life-changing for many and even life-saving for some.
A proper cost-benefit analysis here should analyze 4 things; benefits of the policy, costs of the policy, benefits of the alternatives, and costs of the alternatives.
These "news" outlets are almost invariably focused on the costs of the policy, and they ignore the other 3 things entirely.
My question(s) to these "news" outlets is;
You've laid out the costs of the policy. But what are the benefits of it? What are the costs of the alternatives? What are the benefits? Do you even have an alternative to propose?
I don't think they're interested in any of that.
I'm from there and have a lot of experience with this.
Needless to say, no one from ES has the slightest issue watching "gang members" (if these organizations were in the Middle East we would call them terrorists) go away 👋 . Believe me, the gangs had a really grand time murdering and extorting for ~25 years. This was always going to end with ES as a perpetual murderous failed state, or a massive crackdown.
And surprisingly, life in El Salvador has gotten a lot better since people started going to jail for murder. Who knew right? Someone should tell San Francisco.
Or Chicago, mind blowing the videos of people just stealing and rioting in stores as Walmart without consequences.
If you believe that state repression solves social problems you should look at historical events and see the results of such situations. Mass arrests and imprisonment of thousands (!!!) of people in a country of six and a half million (!!!) does not solve any social problem, on the contrary it intensifies it. Things get even darker when you consider that it takes a few days to interrogate one man and bring him to prison. To put so many thousands of people in jail would take over a decade to complete the procedures. Of course these measures are directed against the innocent and the guilty based on the sick logic that says "My arm hurts, so I have to cut it off"
The culture of crime cannot be corrected by such methods. It is certain that those in prison even if they are not part of the gangs will sooner or later join them, either out of necessity, blackmail or fear. The future of El Salvador even if it looks temporarily better, in the long run it will lead to even more violence and crime, reinforcing the invisible civil war that has been going on for decades...
Behind the fancy lights of the president of El Salvador lies a world of misery, poverty and blood. As for Bitcoin, do you really think it will solve any problems in El Salvador? The culture of crime will still continue whether they use cash or digital currencies...
My friend, I think we can agree that violent crime, particularly murder, and gang violence were a very, very big problem in El Salvador.
Clearly you don't think their current policy is the way to go.
What do you think might have been a better way to address this problem?
What kind of additional measures would you take within the context of the current policy if you had th chance?
Thanks for your reply!
Clearly we agree that crime of this kind is a very big problem in El Salvador as well as worldwide. It is a social phenomenon and as such must be addressed.
Yes I think the leveling logic against innocent and guilty people just because they live in slums or are extorted by gangs and deserve jail or death finds me 100% opposed. Maybe a few people might feel a somewhat greater sense of security but that's fleeting...
Crime is not going to stop, nor are prisoners going to become less violent or change lives. The same is true in society. It's not going to stop producing delinquent people.
Punishment does not necessarily lead to obedience. It usually brings the opposite results especially for people who have nothing to lose...
So my suggestion/approach is different and certainly not transitory. It will take a long time. First of all it has to do with the society itself that needs to realize how bad the mutual strife is.
This starts with education and the social values that must be promoted. From the schools to the neighborhoods and the people of El Salvador. If anything should be funded it is education and schools. Public free and compulsory education. It all starts with it. Financing health care for all. It is unthinkable that people are dying on the streets. Rehabilitation programs and informing people about addictive substances. Ex-prisoner reintegration programs and work. These are a few that come to mind...
It may seem utopian or very difficult to accomplish all of these. But I certainly think it's a way of moving society towards a goal.
It must seem strange to you because I am so extensively involved with El Salvador. I had seen a documentary by a Greek journalist who had done a big report on the children of El Salvador and the gangs.
Can you please answer me something else? Why don't you mention the corruption in the security forces who often (if not always) collaborate with criminals? Don't the secret services play a key role in the drug trade?
leftist whine, lol
"However, generally speaking, the French Revolution is often seen as a significant event in French history and is frequently highlighted as a moment that initiated many positive social and political changes."
for lefitsts there is always: "bad violence" and "good violence"... ;)
I'm just worried what will happen inside prisons with such an increase in inmates, and what will happen when they are released back into society.
Overcrowding in prisons could be a problem. The Salvadoran government could put funding in building out more prison space to improve the problem if they wanted to?
I wouldn’t be too concerned when the gang members get released. A lot of them joined the gang because there were no better opportunities within the country to have a better life. With the gangs cleaned up and business booming, opportunities will arise. These young men will become productive given the opportunity, and those wanting to go back to their old gang ways will get thrown back into prison.
I believe that young men become destructive if they do not see a future for themselves; but they will be productive and work their ass off if they trust that they can build a future for themselves.
In fact El Salvador inaugurated one of the largest prisons in the world specifically to deal with the issue of overcrowding. It can house up to 40k inmates. Overcrowding is no longer an issue.
The prison system has very well structured incentives for good behaviour and skill development on the inside, coupled with a healthy dose of additional punishment for bad behaviour. All in all the stick is pretty big, and the carrot is pretty juicy.
Young men also become destructive when they become institutionalized. Tough on crime is only a part of the formula - you also need rehabilitation and opportunity.
This seems like a thoughtless comment.
Rehabilitation and opportunity are massive parts of the strategy which are already being implemented nationwide.
Tough on crime may only be a part of the formula, but it is a crucial and indispensable part, and without which the other parts are meaningless.
Not only from a utilitarian perspective whereby society can only really develop the opportunities needed to avoid a life of crime if there is a good level of criminality in the first place, but also from a moral point of view. Lack of punishment for the criminal is an injustice for the victim. Only justice will bring peace.
A "thoughtless comment" would be something more flippant like, "lock 'em up and throw away the key!".
I didn't say it wasn't.
This is basically what I said but inverted. It's like if I said "1+1=2" and then you rebutted "yes, but let's not forget that 2=1+1".
Sorry for being concise and not verbose.
96% of people support the man who did this. That's all there is too it. If your people want something and you do it, you are doing good for the people you serve.
Must see: https://twitter.com/JorgeManzaSV/status/1635040024164175872
Yeah which country does NOT incarcerate innocent people?
It's absolutely unfortunate but not particular to El Salvador. I'd argue it's way worse in the USA
These so called news outlets all have an agenda and a narrative to push. They are not really concerned about finding out and presenting all sides of the story or aka “the truth”. Incentives run the world, look at where their incentives lie and you will understand why they publish what they publish.