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Country profile for El Salvador

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

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Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

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Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

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Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: San Salvador
  • Major Languages: Spanish
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar
  • Timezone: GMT -6:00

Country Map

Map of El Salvador

In February 2019, Nayib Bukele became El Salvador’s new president after winning a landslide victory. Bukele is the former mayor of San Salvador and the candidate of the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA). His election has put an end to decades of dominance of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Bukele replaced FMLN’s Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who was elected in 2014 after a narrow victory against ARENA's Norman Quijano. During the first months of his government, Ceren faced severe challenges on public security. Just after taking office, he announced a controversial truce originally brokered in 2012 between El Salvador’s most powerful gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18. Despite Bukele's historic victory, GANA holds few seats in the country’s National Assembly. In the legislative elections held in March 2018, ARENA secured victory in nine out of the 14 departmental capitals. President Bukele has vowed to address the country's long-needed social reforms and endemic levels of corruption. In September 2019, he has announced the launching of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), an anti-corruption body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS). High-level politicians have been implicated in massive corruption scandals, including former presidents Mauricio Funes and Antonio Saca.

In 2017, levels of murder and other violent crimes significantly increased compared with nearly two years of relative peace in the country. Since then, the government has been taking an increasingly authoritarian approach towards the country’s gang problem. In August 2015, the Supreme Court declared street gangs as terrorist groups. There have been reports of police death squads carrying out summary executions and extrajudicial killings, while thousands of young men accused of gang affiliation are sent to overcrowded prisons. El Salvador is part of the so-called Northern Triangle, which includes Guatemala and Honduras. In order to tackle their common gang problem, the three countries launched a US-funded tri-national task force to monitor border areas in Central America. Although gang members make up a large percentage of the homicides in the country, much of the population are also directly affected by the violence. Locals are often targeted in kidnappings and violent robberies, while businesses are usually subject to extortion. Buses and other forms of public transport are common targets for criminals. Endemic levels of criminality are claimed to be one of the main causes of a mass wave of migration from El Salvador - also Honduras and Guatemala - towards the US. Such has generated increasing diplomatic tensions with Washington, which has already threatened to cut aid to those countries if they fail to retain numerous US-bound migrant caravans.

Violence against foreign tourists is sporadically reported. However, they may be victims of petty crime, such as bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, in some urban areas. In San Salvador, travellers are advised to be vigilant and keep a low profile across the city’s historic centre and some suburbs of the capital. Security risks are also high in some major cities and rural communities across La Libertad, Sonsonate, Santa Ana and San Miguel departments.

El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. One of the most significant incidents happened back in 2001 when more than 950 people were killed after a powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country. There are more than 20 volcanoes in El Salvador, but five of them are particularly active. In December 2013, the Chaparrastique Volcano triggered evacuations across nearby communities in San Miguel department. The country may also be affected by the Atlantic hurricane season, which generally runs between June and November.

El Salvador is among a number of countries worldwide which have been hit by the global outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The latest case figures can be viewed here.

News articles

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Alerts for El Salvador

Two killed after army patrol attack in San Salvador

Two people were shot and killed in San Salvador earlier this morning. The incident took place on El Roble Avenue, in the Boquín neighbourhood at around 02:00 local time. Police say an army patrol got ambushed by unidentified criminals. No arrests have been reported. 

Former AG prosecutor accuses Bukele administration of negotiating with gangs

A former senior Salvadorian anti-corruption prosecutor said that President Nayib Bukele's government shut down his unit's investigation into its alleged negotiations with violent street gangs in order to expand its power. German Arriaza, who headed an anti-corruption unit within the attorney general's office, said his team compiled evidence that Bukele's government struck a deal with the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs in 2019 to reduce murder rates and help the ruling New Ideas party win legislative elections in February. Arriaza's comments mark the first time a former Salvadoran official has publicly accused the Bukele government of making a deal with the gangs, which have plagued the country with often brutal murders and extortions for at least two decades. 

Congress re-elects Attorney General, US concerned

El Salvador's Congress re-elected Rodolfo Delgado to serve for three more years as Attorney General despite US concerns about his appointment and decision to end a US-backed anti-corruption accord. In May, Delgado had been appointed by lawmakers from President Nayib Bukele's ruling party after Congress removed his predecessor for having supposed links to the right-wing opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) before they removed five judges from the Supreme Court. 

Eleven Mara Salvatrucha gang members arrested after security operation in San Salvador

A joint operation by the National Police and the Attorney General's Office saw the arrest of 11 suspected Mara Salvatrucha gang members in Mejicanos, San Salvador yesterday evening. The operation was run after the group of suspects were linked to several crimes committed in Cuscatancingo earlier last month. Security officials said they were initially met with gunfire, though no injuries or casualties were reported. 

Civilian shot and killed in San Salvador

One person was shot and killed in Popotlán, San Salvador earlier today. The incident took place in the municipality of Apopa at around 05:30 local time. According to reports, the victim was shot at by unidentified suspects as he left for work. No arrests have been reported. 

Anti-government protests made up of thousands reported in San Slavador

Authorities in El Salvador reported a large anti-government protest being staged by thousands of people in San Salvador yesterday afternoon. According to reports, the protesters gathered at Cuscatlán Park before marching towards Plaza Cívica. The demonstrators protested against the government's economic policies, mainly the adoption and buying of Bitcoin, along with other corruption charges. 

Construction Worker's Union protest reported in San Salvador

A demonstration was reported in front of the Ministry of Labour in San Salvador yesterday evening. The group of protesters was made up mainly of members of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Construcción (Construction Worker's Union). The union workers were reportedly asking for the Labour Minister to intervene in a recent wave of job losses in the construction sector. 

US DoT imposes sanctions on Salvadorian Head of Cabinet over corruption allegations

The US Department of Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions against El Salvador's Head of Cabinet, Martha Carolina Recinos de Bernal, yesterday morning. The sanctions come after allegations of corruption regarding the management of Covid-19 relief funds during the pandemic. 

Three killed after helicopter crash in Usulután

Three Air Force officers were killed after a helicopter crash in Usulután, Usulután State earlier today. The crash took place in La Puntilla Beach, at around 06:00 local time. According to reports, one of the deceased was the Minister of Defense's son. An investigation into the crash is ongoing. 

One killed, two injured after shooting in San Salvador

One person was killed and two others were injured following a shooting in San Salvador yesterday morning. The incident took place on Gerardo Barrios St and 9th South Avenue at around 02:00 local time. Police arrested two suspects shortly after the incident. 

US recalls ambassador, puts relations on hold

The US envoy to El Salvador announced that the US will be leaving the country and put the two countries' diplomatic relations on hold earlier today. Ambassador Jean Manes said that El Salvador's lack of interest in their bilateral relations was increasingly deteriorating the relationship. The Ambassador also said frequent attacks on local media, which is controlled by the government, stained the US' image. 

Two people injured in San Salvador shooting

Two people were injured following a shooting attack in Tutunichapa, San Salvador yesterday evening. The incident took place inside the victim's residence in San Miguelito. According to witnesses, a couple of gunmen stormed into the house and opened fire on the victims. No arrests have been reported. 

More than 400 students protest in San Vicente

A student protest was reported in the municipality of San Vicente yesterday afternoon. The protest was staged by students against the Ministry of Education for ordering the eviction of the Teacher Training Center building in the San Juan del Rio neighbourhood. According to reports, more than 400 students participated in the protest and the entrance was blocked for a couple of hours. 

One member of Mara Salvatrucha shot and killed in San Salvador

Authorities in San Salvador reported that a Mara Salvatrucha gang member was shot and killed yesterday in Soyapongo. The incident took place in the Colonia Amatepec neighbourhood at around 02:00 local time. Police say the incident was part of a gang conflict in the area. No arrests have been reported. 

Two alleged gang members killed in El Congo shooting

Two alleged gang members were killed during a shooting in El Congo, Santa Ana earlier today. The incident occurred in El Guineo at around 01:00 local time. Police have not identified any suspects or reported any arrests. 

MS-13 gang member killed in Soyapango

A member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) has been killed in the Soyapango municipality of San Salvador. The victim, who has not been identified, was shot dead in the Amatepec neighbourhood on Friday. Police are investigating a case of homicide.

Legislative Assembly prohibits all public and private gatherings

El Salvador's Legislative Assembly temporarily prohibited all public and private social gatherings as of yesterday. The decree was reportedly passed amid concerns of surges in cases of Covid-19. The country's opposition claims the measure is a de facto prohibition on anti-government social organizations after multiple protests against President Bukele erupted nationwide, particularly in San Salvador. 

Fire in Santa Ana burns through the 'Colón' market

A fire in Santa Ana, Santa Ana reportedly damaged the 'Colón' market yesterday evening. The fire started at around 23:00 local time and was controlled at around midnight on 18 October. According to reports, at least 25 market stands were completely destroyed during the fire. No injuries or casualties have been reported. 

Government shuts down public spaces in San Francisco Gotera due to Covid-19

The government of El Salvador announced the closure of public spaces in San Francisco Gotera, Morazán yesterday morning. The measure aims at curbing the spread of Covid-19 and will be enforced until at least 27 October. The closures include all public parks, schools, sports venues, San Francisco de Azis plaza, local markets, and Tiangue. 

Traffic disrupted by flooding due to heavy rains in San Salvador

Authorities in San Salvador reported that several roads have been flooded due to heavy rains earlier today. Vehicular traffic is reportedly suffering congestion and disruptions throughout the city, particularly in areas such as 25 Ave Sur, 12 Calle Poniente, Colonia Flor Blanca, 49 Ave Sur, and Colonia Atlacatl. Authorities urged commuters to exercise precautions and advised them to plan around expected rains throughout the day. 

Government extends Covid-19 restrictions in the San Miguel department

The government of El Salvador announced it will extend Covid-19 restrictions in the San Miguel department until at least 21 October. The extension includes the closure of public spaces and will require transport users to wear a facemask. Restaurants will be able to provide delivery services only. The measures were extended in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the department. 

Government extends Covid-19 restrictions

Earlier today, the government of El Salvador announced it would extend its Covid-19 restrictions until at least 15 October. As per the extension, all municipal parks and public entertainment and sports venues shall remain closed. Additionally, all public recreational activities have been suspended in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

One soldier shot and killed in La Libertad

One solider was shot and killed in Colón, La Libertad earlier today. The incident took place in Botoncillal, Lourdes. According to reports, the attacker ambushed the soldier and then stole the soldier's assault rifle. The unidentified suspect remains on the loose. 

Government imposes tighter Covid-19 measures and mask mandate in Moncagua and Sociedad

The government of El Salvador announced it will impose tighter Covid-19 measures in Moncagua, San Miguel and Sociedad, Morazán due to a recent spike in cases. As per the new measures, all private and public events resulting in agglomerations will be prohibited, and all public spaces will be closed. Restaurants will be allowed to operate only on delivery and facemasks must be worn in public. The measures are scheduled to be in place for 15 days. 


Two people killed after being kidnapped in Santa Ana

Two people were killed in a shooting in Flor Amarilla Arriba, Santa Ana yesterday morning. The incident took place at a remote location near El Guayabo, a municipal cemetery. According to reports, the victims were travelling from San Salvador to Santa Ana before they were kidnapped in El Congo. Police found their bodies close to their vehicle. No arrests have been reported. 

One person shot and killed in San Salvador

One person was shot and killed in San Salvador yesterday evening. The incident took place at 49 Avenida Sur, near the crossing with Ferrocarril at around 21:00 local time. According to reports, the perpetrators shot the victim whilst riding a motorcycle before fleeing. No arrests have been reported. 

Supreme Court rules President Bukele may run for re-election

El Salvador's Supreme Court made a ruling stating that the country's president is allowed to serve two consecutive terms earlier this week. The ruling opens the door for President Nayib Bukele to stand for re-election in 2024. The constitution of El Salvador has an immutable prohibition to this kind of re-election, making the decision highly controversial. The ruling was made by judges appointed by lawmakers from President Bukele's party and has already been condemned by the US government. 

One gang member shot and killed by security forces in Izalco

One gang member was killed during a shooting with security forces in Izalco, Sonsonate earlier today. The incident took place at around 02:30 local time on El Chorizo St in the canton of Cuntan. According to the Sección Tática Operativa (Operative Tactics Section), several gang members shot at them whilst they patrolled the area. One suspect was gunned down and several others fled the scene. 

Protest in San Salvador reported over government decision to prohibit street vendors

A protest was reported today in San Salvador. The demonstrators reportedly gathered at Monseñor Romero and 4th West Ave in order to protest the government's decision to prohibit street sellers from doing business in Plaza Morazán, Plaza Barrios, and Plaza Libertad. The protesters reportedly started their demonstration on 25 August and have persisted through today. The sellers said they would stop when the government reverses their decision. "We are honest workers, if they take our business away, many will turn to crime," said one of the protesters. 

Three injured after nightclub shooting in San Salvador

Three people were injured following a shooting outside a nightclub in San Salvador yesterday evening. The incident took place on el Hipódromo Blvd in the San Benito neighbourhood at around 23:00 local time. According to reports, two security guards and a customer were wounded after a group of armed individuals opened fire at the venue's entrance. No arrests have been reported. 

Four MS-13 members arrested following shootout with security forces in Santa Tecla

Authorities reported the arrest of four members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) criminal organisation yesterday. The arrests occurred after the criminal group members engaged in a shooting with security forces in Santa Tecla, La Libertad. The shooting took place in the Guadalupe neighbourhood. The authorities reportedly seized weapons and drugs from the criminals. No injuries were reported. 

Six arrested for drug trafficking off the Port of Acajutla

Six suspects were arrested following a 1.4-tonne cocaine seizure by El Salvador's armed forces earlier today. The seizure took place about 500 nautical miles off the Port of Acajutla, Sonsonate. According to reports, agents encountered the drug traffickers moving their shipment from one vessel to another before arriving at the port. This represents the largest drug seizure conducted by armed forces in international waters. 

Health Minister reports first case of 'Delta' variant coronavirus

The government of El Salvador announced the detection of its first case of the 'Delta' variant coronavirus on Saturday. Health Minister Francisco Alabi urged citizens to keep caution and continue following Covid-19 guidelines after announcing the presence of the variant. El Salvador now tallies 86,620 cases and 2,642 deaths due to the coronavirus. 

Three gang members killed, one police officer injured after shootout in San Julián

Three members of the barrio 18 gang were reportedly killed, and a police officer was wounded, after a shooting in San Julián, Sonsonate. The incident took place in the Sauce Arriba area at around 02:00 local time. The criminal gang reportedly engaged in a shootout with police after they responded to a call in the area. "At least five" assailants escaped according to police, who are now running a search operation in the area. 

Arrest order issued against former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén

El Salvador's Prosecutor's Office issued an arrest order against former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén over corruption charges on Friday. According to the Prosecutor's Office, Sánchez Cerén is being indicted over the embezzlement of $350m USD during his term as vice president to former President Mauricio Funes. El Salvador's current President Nayib Bukele said Sánche Cerén left the country back in December 2020. 

Army veterans protest blocks Troncal del Norte highway

An army veterans protest was staged yesterday in Apopa, San Salvador. The protest was staged on the Troncal del Norte highway, at the entrance of the capital's municipality building. During the demonstration, the protesters blocked the highway demanding the funds destined for their benefits not be redirected. The demonstrators also protested against the appointment of Rafael Aguillón Rivera as head of the Institution of Benefits for Veterans (IABVE). 

Four students murdered in Turín, Ahuachapán

Four people were killed in a homicide in Turín, Ahuachapán yesterday evening. According to the National Civil Police (PNC), all of the victims were students, still wearing their uniforms. The incident took place at around 21:00 local time in the Buena Vista village, where they set up a perimeter and operation in search of the suspects. 

Parliament workers strike blocks access to Congress

Workers in El Salvador's Parliament went on strike earlier today and staged a demonstration in front of the Congress building, blocking access. The protesters in San Salvador staged their demonstration to demand that the government stop a plan to lay off around 200 employees in the next few days. No arrests have been reported. 

Four MS-13 members arrested, another killed after shootout with police in Palo de Campana

Authorities in El Salvador reported that one member of the MS-13 gang was killed and four others were arrested following a shootout with police in Palo de Campana, Santa Ana yesterday afternoon. According to the National Civil Police (PCN), the victim had an arrest warrant issued against him for homicide charges and officers confiscated two 38mm weapons from the criminals. 

City Hall workers stage protest in San Salvador

City Hall employees staged a protest today in Soyapango, San Salvador. The demonstration took place in front of the municipal hall building. The protesters demanded the payment of promised bonuses and the reinstatement of employees who were laid off during the pandemic. 

City Hall workers protest in San Salvador, block Tutunichapa Blvd

A demonstration by City Hall workers (ASTRAM) in San Salvador was reported today. The demonstrators blocked Tutunichapa Blvd demanding the payment of government benefits former mayor Ernesto Muyshondt had promised and allegedly stole. No violent incidents have been reported. Mr Muyshondt currently faces three charges over diverting funds, electoral fraud, and negotiating with criminal gangs. 

Government approves Bitcoin as legal tender

The government of El Salvador became the first to adopt bitcoin as legal tender yesterday after Congress approved President Nayib Bukele's proposal to accept the cryptocurrency. Lawmakers in El Salvador approved the move with 64 out of 84 votes, despite looming concerns over their programme with the IMF. "It will bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for our country," Bukele said in a tweet shortly before the vote in Congress, which is controlled by his party and allies.

Former mayor arrested on electoral fraud charges

The Bukele administration charged a former mayor with electoral fraud and organized crime in San Salvador over the weekend. The accused had been recently nominated as an advisor to the secretary-general of the OAS, Luis Almagro. After the arrest, President Bukele announced the termination of the Anti-Corruption Commission (CICIES) agreement between the country and the OAS. 

Police operation results in 43 arrests

Two simultaneous police operations against criminal gangs resulted in the arrest of 43 people in La Paz, Ahuachapán, San Miguel, La Libertad, and San Salvador earlier today. The raids were a joint operation between the police, the army, and the general attorney's office in an effort to curb gang-related violence and criminal activity in the country. 

Ten bodies found at former police officer's property

The bodies of seven women and three children have been discovered at the property of a former police officer in El Salvador. The attorney general's office said Hugo Osorio Chavez Osorio, 51, is being investigated on suspicion of sex crimes and 13 murder charges. He already confessed to the murder of a woman and her adult daughter when he was arrested last week in Chalchuapa.

El Salvador purchases 8.4m Covid-19 vaccines

The Salvadorian government announced the purchase of 4.4m doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine yesterday. The country's inoculation plans aim to vaccinate 4.5m out of their 6.5m population. The government also purchased 2.2m doses of the Sinovac jab and 2m from AstraZeneca. El Salvador reports it has administered around 1.04m jabs and fully vaccinated two percent of its population thus far. 

Lawmakers vote to remove five Supreme Court judges and Attorney General

Lawmakers in El Salvador voted to remove five influential Supreme Court judges and the Attorney General over the weekend. The move prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express "grave concern," to which President Nayib Bukele replied by saying: “With all due respect: We are cleaning house … and this doesn’t concern you”. The motions to remove the judges passed with a supermajority in the legislature controlled by the ruling New Ideas party. 

City Hall workers block multiple highways in protest

City Hall workers blocked multiple access points by staging protests in San Salvador on Wednesday. The demonstrations began at around 08:30 and blocked the Panamerican Highway, Troncal del Norte highway, El Ejército Blvd, Los Chorros highway, Santa Ana highway, Comalapa highway and Constitución Blvd. The workers demanded the payment of promised bonuses.

Mayors, public officials and police detained in anti-corruption operation

An anti-corruption operation took place yesterday in Zacatecoluca and San Rafael Obrajuelo, resulting in the arrest of 16 presumed criminals, including the mayors of both municipalities. The Directorate Against Corruption and the Attorney General's Office reported that among those arrested were prominent business people, public servants and a police officer. "The investigations determined that the mayor's office in Zacatecoluca was responsible for several corrupt structures where they solicited gifts which they would then distribute amongst them.. we have captured both the corruptors and the corrupted," said Attorney General Raúl Melara.

Gang clash leaves two dead in Santa Elena

Two gang members were shot dead yesterday during an exchange between criminal groups in Santa Elena, Usulután. Police arrived after the incident was over and could not identify the assailants. No arrests have been made so far.

Woman stabbed and killed in Chirilagua

A woman was stabbed to death Sunday evening in Chirilagua, San Miguel. The 31-year-old victim was found dead in Tierra Morada. No arrests have been made. 

Landslide victory for New Ideas party in legislative elections

A preliminary count by electoral bodies in El Salvador suggests that the New Ideas party won around 70 percent of the vote in the congressional election, announced President Nayib Bukele. The president said his party allies secured more than a two-thirds majority of the legislative body's seats (the biggest in the history of the nation's Congress). The results allow the New Ideas party to elect an attorney general and Supreme Court judges, approve budgets and pass constitutional reforms in El Salvador. 

Woman killed in Olocuilta

A 23-year-old woman was killed in Olocuilta, San Salvador yesterday evening. The woman was identified as a pupusa merchant. The investigation into her death is ongoing and no arrests have been made. 

Three killed in Guaymango

A teacher and both of her parents were murdered inside their home in Guaymango, Ahuachapán, the National Civil Police (PNC) reported. Twenty-nine-year-old Mayra Yesenia Cerna Rodríguez and both of her 60-year-old parents died during the attack. Police arrived at the scene when a report was filed after Mayra failed to show up to work - no arrests have been made so far.

One killed in Mano de León

A 28-year-old man was found dead in Mano de León, San Salvador after being brutally beaten to death, police reports. The victim, Roberto Portillo Cruz, was reportedly heard singing the Alianza hymn, a song associated with the national football club, late at night, although authorities can't say with certainty why he was targeted. The area is badly affected by drug-related activity.

Local deputies ask for evaluation of President Bukeles

Local deputies in San Salvador asked the Legislative Assembly to initiate the process of evaluating President Nayib Bukeles' mental and physical capacity, in an effort to remove him as head of state. The petition, initiated by Ricardo Velásquez of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), was backed by members of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). The initiative must be endorsed by the Legislative Assembly in order to move forward and would be the first of its kind in El Salvador. 

One killed, one injured and two arrested following a shooting in Meanguera, Morazán

One person has been killed, one injured and two arrested following a shooting in Meanguera, Morazan. The victim, who has been identified as Merari Reyes Argueta, was targeted as she sat inside a vehicle in Poza Honda on Saturday. Her husband was later detained by officers from the National Civil Police.

Two dead, five wounded in an armed attack against political party sympathizers in San Salvador

Two people have been killed and five others wounded in an armed attack against political party sympathizers in San Salvador. The victims were sympathizers of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) political party. No arrests have been made yet.

Minister calls on TSE to ban re-election bid of San Salvador's mayor

Labour Minister Rolando Castro has requested the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) to block the re-election bid of San Salvador's Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt. Castro claimed that the TSE intervention would come as Muyshondt faces court proceedings for negotiating with street gangs. Muyshondt is a member of the right-wing opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). This is the second time that Castro requests the TSE to ban him. The move came after several parties requested the TSE to ban the bid of a candidate known to support President Nayib Bukele.

Former President Saca ordered to return millions in public funds

Former President Antonio Saca has been ordered to return millions of dollars as part of a corruption case. A court has ordered him and his wife to return up to $4.4m that he is accused of stealing from public funds. It is estimated that he diverted around $300m during his term - Saca was president between 2004 and 2009. Saca has also been banned from running for office for the next 10 years. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison back in 2018.

US government to slash foreign military aid to El Salvador

The US government has cut foreign military aid to El Salvador amid increasing international pressure on President Nayib Bukele. Since taking office, President Bukele has pushed El Salvador closer to the US. However, despite intense political lobbying and support, the US has raised concerns over allegations of authoritarianism and corruption. The funds affected are part of the Foreign Military Financing programme, which is worth around $15m. US aid to El Salvador is mainly destined to curb drug-trafficking, corruption and illegal migration.

Major parties sign deal on campaign financing for 2021 election

Political parties in El Salvador have signed a financing agreement ahead of the legislative elections in February 2021. Leaders of major political parties - including the leftist Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMNL), the ruling New Ideas (NI) and the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) - signed the deal brokered by an ethics court. The agreement is aimed at guaranteeing more accountability over the use of public funds in the election, especially for those already working for the government. It also seeks to avoid the widespread use of public funds for political campaigns.

El Salvador reaches asylum deal with the US

El Salvador has reached an agreement over an asylum seekers' programme with the US. The deal is part of previous negotiations in the Asylum Cooperative Agreement (ACA) that dates back to 2019. It dictates that people who request asylum on the US border will be sent to El Salvador. Similar agreements were previously reached with Honduras and Guatemala at the height of the migration wave of Central Americans heading to the US. In recent years, migrant caravans have departed from Central America towards the US border. The high influx of migrants created increasing humanitarian pressure on the Mexican-US border.

AG condemns protests outside TSE offices in San Salvador

El Salvador's Attorney General Raul Melara has condemned a protest that prevented members of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) from leaving the organisation's building in San Salvador. Demonstrators reportedly linked to the New Ideas (NI) - a party founded by President Nayib Bukele but run by his cousin, Xavier Bukele - gathered around the TSE building and prevented magistrates and staff from leaving. Protests targeting the TSE took place ahead of the municipal elections in 2021, where the NI and President Bukele are fueling claims of electoral fraud.

Major joint operation targets street gangs in Central America

A massive joint international operation against street gangs has been launched in Central America. Hundreds of suspects have been targeted as part of 'Operation Regional Shield', a US-based initiative against the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Dozens were detained in El Salvador and Honduras for links to human trafficking. Violence perpetrated by street gangs fuels high-levels of migration from Central America to the US. In recent years, the Trump administration has pressured Central American governments to intensify efforts against street gangs - both the MS-13 and Barrio 18 are also known to operate in the US.

Hurricane Iota could affect El Salvador

Inclement weather could affect El Salvador as Hurricane Iota approaches Central America. Iota is forecast to make landfall in Nicaragua as a potential category five storm. The system is expected to move through Honduras as downgrade into a tropical depression before hitting El Salvador on Tuesday. People in El Salvador should remain vigilant due to risks of landslides and flooding.

Congress accuses president of intimidating journalists

A congressional investigation has accused President Nayib Bukele of using public funds to intimidate and target journalists. In a vote in congress, lawmakers supported the investigation led by a special commission. The probe highlighted the government's suppression of access to public information, while intimidation and attacks were also identified on the internet. Members of the president's cabinet rejected the investigation. Press Secretary Ernesto Sanabria said that the probe was politically motivated and part of a manoeuvre from the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). 

Public ministry requests removal of immunity of deputy security minister

The public ministry has asked parliament to remove the political immunity of deputy Security Minister Mauricio Arriaza Chicas over claims that he failed to fulfil his public responsibilities. Arriaza Chicas is accused of refusing to forcefully bring Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya and Health Minister Francisco Alabi to testify on a corruption case. He claimed that no police force was necessary at the time. Arriaza Chicas is also the head of the National Civil Police (PNC). The request came after a vote in parliament to remove his immunity was backed by the opposition.

Hurricane Eta triggers weather alerts in El Salvador

Government Minister Mario Duran has declared a nationwide weather alert as Hurricane Eta approaches Central America. The alert was issued to the entire country due to the risk of landslides and flooding. Intense rainfall is forecast to mainly affect the country's eastern and northern regions, especially the departments of La Union and San Miguel. Eta is expected to make landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday afternoon and continue affecting the region until at least Friday.

Dozens feared missing after landslide hit San Salvador

Dozens of people are feared to be trapped under rubble after a massive landslide hit a residential area in northern San Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that more than 40 people are believed to be missing after heavy rainfall battered the region. The incident happened on Thursday in the municipality of Nejapa. At least six bodies have already been recovered from the scene. President Nayib Bukele has already asked the Defense Minister Merino Monroy to mobilise the military to assist in the search. Nejapa is located east of the San Salvador Volcano at El Boqueron National Park.

President Bukele ordered to hand over documents on El Mozote case

President Nayib Bukele has been ordered to hand over all declassified documents related to the El Mozote massacre, where more than 1,000 people were killed. Judge Jorge Guzman ordered the immediate release of the documents after the public ministry claimed that it had not received any documents related to the case nearly a month after the president pledged to send them over. The government denied the allegations. The El Mozote case dates back to 1991. It has re-emerged after the Supreme Court nullified an amnesty law that granted protection to those involved in it.

PNC chief nominated as deputy minister amid political row

The head of the National Civil Police (PNC) Mauricio Arriaza has been named as the deputy security minister. President Nayib Bukele announced Arriaza's nomination to the post, which also ensures political immunity and protection from prosecution. Arriaza will continue to lead the PNC while serving as a minister. Arriaza was recently caught in the political crossfire between Congress and President Bukele. He had refused to forcefully bring the Health Minister Francisco Alabi and Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya to testify after they failed to adhere to a parliamentary summons.

Police make massive cocaine bust in El Salvador

Police have seized 1.5 tonnes of cocaine in two separate operations in El Salvador. Security Minister Rogelio Rivas said that in one of the operations 380 kilos of drugs were recovered. He said that the drugs were heading to Guatemala and Mexico. The operations happened in the central province of Zacatecoluca and in the western area of El Amatillo. El Salvador and other Central American countries have become a major transhipment route of drugs heading from South America to the US. This is the largest single-day seizure since President Nayib Bukele took office.

President Bukele criticises judges for rulings against the government

President Nayib Bukele has criticised judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) for three rulings against the government. President Bukele has called the constitutional judges corrupt and said that they are only promoting self-interest. Three rulings were issued against the government, including fiscal evasion, the payment of salaries to lawmakers and the disclosure of documents related to the 1981 'El Mozote' massacre. This is the latest row involving President Bukele and the CSJ. Earlier this year, grievances emerged after the introduction of stringent coronavirus measures.

Six killed in armed attack in San Salvador

At least six people have been killed after gunmen raided a bar in San Salvador. According to the National Civil Police (PNC), three gunmen in a vehicle opened fire at a local bar located close to La Tiendona Market. Investigations are still ongoing to assess if the shooting is gang-related. In total, over a dozen people died in El Salvador on Sunday. Due to coronavirus restrictions, murder rates have drastically fallen in the country. So far this year, more than 800 people have been murdered.

Court summons President Bukele on 'national reconciliation' case

President Nayib Bukele has been summoned by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to clarify issues in the infamous 'national reconciliation' law. President Bukele and the parliament speaker, Mario Ponce, are expected to testify before the CSJ in late-October. Several other ministers and high-level politicians will also testify. In 2016, the CSJ overturned a piece of legislation that blocked war crime trials. In February, Congress passed the 'national reconciliation' law to replace the 1993 amnesty law. It was heavily criticised by the families of the civil war victims. In the 12 years of the civil war in El Salvador, more than 75,000 people died and 8,000 more went missing

Finance minister investigated over delay to workers' payments

Investigations have been opened against Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya for delays to the payment of workers - and lawmakers - of the Legislative Assembly. Attorney General Raul Melara has said that investigations will be opened as Zelaya is responsible for the pay freeze. For the investigations to move forward, parliament still has to vote on the removal of his political immunity. President Nayib Bukele has criticised the probe and said that Melara is being unreasonable. This is the latest political clash between Bukele and lawmakers - in February, President Bukele and the military stormed the parliament building. During the coronavirus crisis, El Salvador's economy has suffered a deep downturn, affecting the salaries of some civil servants. 

Five found dead at a house in San Julian, Sonsonate

At least five people have been killed at a residence in the western town of San Julian. Prosecutors said that three people found at the scene were being held in captivity and that the fatalities could be related to the same incident. It is still unclear who the victims are. El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the Americas. Violence in the country is mainly attributed to operations of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 street gangs. In 2020, the country has reported a drastic decrease in homicide rates mainly due to stringent coronavirus measures.

Court reduces prison sentence of former President Saca

A court has ruled on the reduction of the sentence of the prison sentence of former President Elias Antonio Saca. Saca was sentenced back in 2018 for involvement in money laundering and corruption. He was accused of diverting more than $300m in public funds. Initially, Saca was sentenced to 12 years in prison but the new ruling reduces the sentence to 10 years. A number of high-level politicians from major parties in El Salvador have been implicated in corruption scandals.

Fresh arrest warrant issued for former president

A court in El Salvador has issued a new arrest warrant for former President Mauricio Funes. The warrant, which is the sixth issued for Funes, relates to the truce signed with criminal groups in 2012. The attorney general has previously indicated that the truce with the gangs was "illegal" because they are considered "terrorist criminals." Funes fled to Nicaragua in 2016 where he was granted asylum.

President Bukele tasks his VP to draft constitutional reforms

President Nayib Bukele has tasked Vice-President Felix Ulloa with drafting constitutional reforms. In the official government's diary, the move comes over claims to adapt the current legislation to the current needs of the society. Constitutional reforms have been at the centre of policy plans of President Bukele. Among constitutional changes may include the re-election of the president and changes to the number of lawmakers in parliament. The decision comes as the government is engulfed in a scandal related to alleged collusion with street gangs to curb homicide rates.

Prosecutors raid prisons after allegations of government collusion with gangs

Prosecutors have raided three offices of the General Director of Prisons (DGCP) after allegations of collusion between government officials and leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Allegations emerged after El Faro published incriminating documents stating more than a dozen official visits to maximum security facilities in El Salvador. Members of the government of President Nayib Bukele are accused of negotiating a truce with MS-13 leaders to lower homicide rates in El Salvador. Further allegations also include meetings with a leader of MS-13's main rival, the Barrio 18. Homicide rates have significantly reduced in El Salvador in comparison with 2019. Official data shows that homicide rates have reduced by more than 50 percent so far this year.

US officials threaten to cut aid from El Salvador

US officials have reportedly threatened to cut aid to El Salvador due to President Nayib Bukele's spat with the Supreme Court and Congress. AP reported that the move comes after President Bukele failed to agree with a Supreme Court ruling on stringent coronavirus measures in the country. The warning came through a letter signed by an independent US aid administrator and included concerns that President Bukele is leading an authoritarian regime. El Salvador is among the largest recipients of US aid in the region. Amid the migration crisis in Central America last year, the US also threatened to slash military aid after accusing Bukele's government of failing to deal with US-bound immigration.

Prosecutors order the arrest of dozens of MS-13 members

Prosecutors in El Salvador have ordered the arrest of more than 100 members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) who are accused of carrying out forced disappearances. Attorney General Raful Melara said that the suspects are accused of the abduction of 25 people between 2016 and 2019. Melara said that operations have been launched to locate the remains of those missing. MS-13 is one of the most powerful street gangs in Central America. It is often involved in clashes with its main rival, the Barrio 18.

More than 800 reported missing in the first semester of 2020

El Salvador's General Attorney has confirmed that more than 800 people were reported missing in the country in the first semester of 2020. In a report published on Thursday, officials confirmed that around 350 of them are still missing. Most disappearances were reported in the months before the government imposed lockdown measures. Hundreds of people disappear every year in El Salvador due to disputes involving rival street gangs and widespread violence. The country has one of the highest murder rates in the world. In 2019, more than 3,000 people went missing in the country.

National police chief summoned over parliament's military raid

The director of the National Civil Police (PNC) has been summoned to testify before a congressional committee over his alleged involvement in a military raid on parliament. The incident happened in early-February when soldiers, police officers and some lawmakers raided El Salvador's Legislative Assembly. The incident happened when President Nayib Bukele was presenting an ambitious package of measures to revamp domestic security in El Salvador.

Police dismantle human-trafficking network in western El Salvador

More than a dozen people have been arrested as the police dismantled a human trafficking network in El Salvador. According to the public ministry, the group mainly operated in the western department of the country and promised to take people to the US. Prosecutors said that police officers were also involved in the scheme, where they would give their victims fake letters claiming that they were at risk in El Salvador. Those would be used to secure asylum requests in the US.

El Salvador requests massive loan from international organisations

El Salvador's government has requested a massive $900m loan from international organisations to alleviate the economic impact brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The government has already received a $389m disbursement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while the remaining sum has been requested from the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). It is estimated that El Salvador may end 2020 with a debt higher than 92 percent of its GDP, the highest in Central America. As part of efforts to address financial distress, the government issued $1bn in bonds at a massive 9.5-percent interest rate.

President Bukele to follow court ruling on coronavirus policies

President Nayib Bukele has said that he will adhere to a court ruling that declared a presidential decree dedicated to reopening the country's economy as unconstitutional. President Bukele has launched a five-phase plan to resume economic activities in El Salvador. However, judges claimed that a number of measures imposed under the plan are not lawful. They include movement restrictions and the enforcement of lockdowns. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit El Salvador, President Bukele has been engaged in disputes with the Constitutional Court. El Salvador has imposed one of the most stringent measures in Central America to curb the spread of the virus.

Former defense minister detained for links to 2012 gang truce

Former Defense Minister David Munguia has been arrested for his involvement in a controversial truce between street gangs back in 2012. Munguia is accused of orchestrating the truce between the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), which led to a drastic reduction in criminality. The truce happened during the government of Mauricio Funes, who is currently exiled in Nicaragua. Funes and Munguia are accused of offering benefits to gangs to adhere to the terms of the deal. Barrio 18 and the MS-13 widely operate in El Salvador and across Central America.

President Bukele delays second reopening phase

President Nayib Bukele has announced that the second reopening phase in El Salvador will be delayed. In a statement released on social media, he claimed that the country still needs to impose further measures and a strict quarantine to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the government announced a delay to the second reopening phase until 21 July after a spike in coronavirus cases were reported in the country. President Bukele has been engaged in disputes with the judiciary and the opposition parties due to stringent measures launched in El Salvador.

US Department of Justice charges MS-13 leader with terrorism

The US Justice Department has charged a leader of the infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) with terrorism. Armando Eliu Melgar Diaz, alias 'Blue', is the first MS-13 member to be charged with terrorism in the US. He is also facing 'Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations' charges. Blue is accused of leading a number of MS-13 factions in the US East Coast. CBS reported that Blue is currently detained in El Salvador. He is accused of murder and for collecting drug-trafficking money to finance the group in Central America. Nearly 10 years ago, the US government designated the MS-13 as a Transnational Criminal Organisation. Operations against the group in the US intensified in 2017, leading to the creation of the Joint Task Force Vulcan two years later.

Court hands over hefty sentences to three MS-13 members

A special court in El Salvador has handed hefty sentences to three gang members convicted of killing a family in the rural area of Sonsonate, western El Salvador. Three members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) were handed more than 260 years in jail time each for involvement in the incident. The case dates back to 2019 when a family was murdered in the town of Nahuizalco. Reports indicate that the family was briefly intercepted on a road and taken to a local farm, where they were buried. The MS-13 and Barrio 18 are among the most dangerous street gangs in Central America. Farmers, local businessmen and transport workers are often targeted in extortion.

Government delays second reopening phase due to spike in coronavirus cases

El Salvador has postponed the second phase of economic reopening due to a significant increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. Initially, President Nayib Bukele planned to start a new phase of economic recovery on 07 July. However, as cases continue to increase, the second phase has been delayed to 21 July. According to the government, international flights to El Salvador will resume on 18 August. A spike in coronavirus cases was confirmed in the country since the first phase of economic reopening. So far, the country has confirmed nearly 8,000 coronavirus cases, including some 220 deaths.

President Bukele requests 15-day extension of state of emergency

President Nayib Bukele has announced plans to extend the country's coronavirus state of emergency (estado de excepcion) for another 15 days. As the coronavirus threat continues active in El Salvador, the government claims that stringent measures are necessary to curb the spread of the virus. Among the measures include the restriction of movements and a ban on large gatherings. La Prensa Grafica reported that the left-wing opposition FMLN will not back the proposal, while it remains unclear if the government will have the support of the right-wing ARENA. El Salvador has so far reported more than 5,300 coronavirus cases, including 126 deaths.

Mexico's 7.1-magnitude earthquake triggers tsunami alert

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a tsunami alert to several countries in Central America after a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico. In Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the alert was issued to locations in the Pacific coast. The earthquake was reported on Tuesday morning in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Initially, no evacuation orders were issued in Sonsonate, Ahuachapan, La Libertad, La Paz, San Vicente, Usulutan, San Miguel and La Union. People in those areas are advised to follow the advice from the local authorities.

Record daily increase in coronavirus cases

El Salvador has been reporting a significant increase in coronavirus cases when compared to periods during the nationwide quarantine. The government has already announced the first phase to reopen the country's economy. According to the health ministry, more than 250 cases were confirmed on Tuesday and Wednesday combined. Those are the highest daily increases reported in El Salvador. Quarantine measures in the country were lifted last week despite divergent opinions between President Nayib Bukele and the parliament. Health Minister Francisco Albi told EFE that the country's health system is under extreme pressure. So far, some 4,300 cases were confirmed.

Police discover clandestine grave in Santa Ana

Police have discovered three clandestine graves in the western department of Santa Ana. Authorities believe that those found in the rural area of El Matazano were reported missing last week. La Prensa Grafica said that the victims could be wood dealers that went missing in the area. Clandestine graves are sporadically found in El Salvador. Most cases are related to disputes involving the country's largest street gangs, the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

President Bukele calls on CSJ to extend coronavirus quarantine

President Nayib Bukele has called on the country's Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to allow the extension of the current coronavirus quarantine. The request was made to the CSJ's constitutional committee. Judges have declared a decree that limited some liberties as part of the coronavirus lockdown as unconstitutional. In addition, President Bukele reiterated that judicial officials will not be allowed to head outside their homes apart from when they are buying essentials. The measures are implemented as a nationwide quarantine remains in place. On Wednesday, lawmakers approved the extension of judicial deadlines in El Salvador as the country recovers from the damage caused by Tropical Storm Amanda. During the coronavirus outbreak in El Salvador, President Bukele has been engaged in grievances with the judicial authorities.

Former military commander faces war crimes trial in Spain

A former military commander is currently facing a war crimes trial in Spain for killing six priests back in November 1989. Inocente Montano was an army colonel at the time and is accused of killing the Jesuit priests during a military operation. Five of those priests were Spanish nationals. Montano has been detained in Spain since 2017 after being extradited from the US. Another military official, Rene Yusshy Mendoza, is currently working together with prosecutors in the trial of Montano. According to the UN, it is estimated that more than 75,000 people died during El Salvador's civil war.

Supreme Court rules against presidential decrees on coronavirus

El Salvador's Supreme Court has declared several presidential decrees which regulate the coronavirus quarantine in the country unconstitutional. The court has also ruled that most of the stringent measures imposed by President Nayib Bukele are also unconstitutional and ordered the decrees to be nullified. The opposition has accused President Bukele of abusing of his political powers to impose coronavirus measures. President Bukele has previously defied a Supreme Court order over coronavirus restrictions, claiming that they are necessary to curb the spread of the virus. El Salvador has reported more than 3,000 coronavirus cases so far, including 58 deaths.

Tropical storms death toll increases to 27

The death toll caused by Tropical Storm Amanda and Tropical Storm Cristobal has reached 27. Over 30,000 people across the country have been affected, while 12,000 of those were forced to evacuate. Nearly 400 homes were also destroyed and hundreds more damaged. Crops, bridges and roads were also affected, while landslides are impacting travel across El Salvador. President Nayib Bukele said that the death toll is likely to increase. The government fears that the incidents may impact the coronavirus response in the country. El Salvador's quarantine has been extended until 15 June, while the president said that the country is not yet ready to reopen the economy.

Several killed as Tropical Storm Amanda hits El Salvador

At least 14 people have died after Tropical Storm Amanda battered El Salvador. Amanda, which has already moved north towards Mexico, caused extensive damage across the country. Landslides and flooding affected hundreds of families nationwide, especially in San Salvador. The intense downpour caused rivers to overflow, affecting a number of rural communities in western El Salvador. Amanda hits El Salvador ahead of the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. President Nayib Bukele has declared a 15-day state of emergency to assist in recovery efforts. Essential services and domestic travel across the country could be affected over the next few days.

Weather alerts issued due to low-pressure system off El Salvador

Weather alerts have been issued to the entire coast of El Salvador as a low-pressure system moves along the Pacific. The environment ministry has said that intense rainfall may affect provinces on the coast and across the volcanic regions, where landslides could occur. Inclement weather could last until the end of Thursday. According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), this storm is not forecast to make landfall in El Salvador. The system is currently moving northwards to Mexico, where it may gradually strengthen into a tropical depression.

Dozens of inmates test positive for coronavirus

Dozens of inmates detained across El Salvador have tested positive for coronavirus. Health authorities confirmed on Monday that at least 25 inmates at a prison in San Vicente contracted the virus. El Salvador's prison system director, Osiris Luna, said that 11 inmates at another prison in Quezaltepeque also tested positive for coronavirus. El Salvador's prisons are often overcrowded and segregated between rival street gangs. Currently, a state of emergency remains active nationwide. The country has reported nearly 2,000 coronavirus cases, including 35 deaths.

Coronavirus quarantine extended until 6 June

President Nayib Bukele has signed an executive order to extend the coronavirus quarantine in El Salvador until at least 06 June. During this period, movement restrictions will still be enforced and people will only be allowed out of their homes to shop for essentials. People will also only be allowed to circulate within their areas of residency, while public transport will be limited. Currently, the measures are being enforced based on people's ID and passport numbers. In addition, President Bukele also signed another decree that imposes a state of emergency in El Salvador. The country has imposed one of the most stringent coronavirus measures in Central America.

President Bukele refuses to lift El Salvador's economic shutdown

President Nayib Bukele has said that El Salvador is not still ready to lift its economic shutdown. He said on national media that it is still not the right time to lift the shutdown as the coronavirus still poses a threat to El Salvador. He claimed that El Salvador has not yet passed through the peak of infections and acknowledged the limitations of the country's healthcare system. President Bukele has been heavily criticised for his restrictive policies on the coronavirus. He has been accused of abusing of his political powers to tackle the pandemic. El Salvador has so far confirmed more than 1,300 coronavirus cases, including 27 deaths.

Coronavirus crisis aggravated IDP levels in Central America

A report from the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has highlighted that the coronavirus pandemic in Central America has significantly aggravated the levels of internally displaced people (IDP) in the region. Due to stringent lockdown measures, some people are unable to find assistance to counter security threats. Incidents of extortion, sexual exploitation, gender-based violence and drug-trafficking are reported to be on the rise in areas controlled by street gangs. The situation has been exacerbated due to the current economic shutdown in some areas, with a large number of people losing their income sources. Last year, some 71,000 people were displaced within El Salvador.

Government expected to request state of emergency extension

President Nayib Bukele's government is expected to request an extension to the current state of emergency that will expire on Saturday. A presidential legal aide told La Prensa Grafica that the decision would be based on the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in El Salvador. Opposition parties have been against the government's decision to extend the state of emergency, especially the right-wing National Revolutionary Alliance (ARENA). Coronavirus cases in El Salvador have surpassed 1,000 after a hike in the number of cases over the weekend.

President Bukele launches tougher coronavirus restrictions

President Nayib Bukele has announced tougher measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country. While some countries in Latin America are preparing to relax some restrictions, the government is now restricting shopping trips to twice a week. The measure is expected to be enforced until at least the end of the month. People will also not be allowed to leave their cities for shopping for food nor medicine. In addition, rights to shop will be based on people's ID and passport numbers. El Salvador has enforced one of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in the region. The country has so far confirmed nearly 600 coronavirus cases, including 14 deaths.

Committee votes to remove immunity of former Congress speaker

A special congressional committee has started the procedure to remove the immunity of Norman Quijano, a lawmaker accused of brokering a deal with street gangs in El Salvador. Quijano is the former speaker of the Congress and is being investigated for colluding with street gangs during the presidential elections in 2014. He is accused of meeting with members of major street gangs in El Salvador to get their support to win the presidential elections. Quijano denied any claims. He was implicated in the scandal after a testimony part of a major trial against the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The witness claimed that Quijano negotiated on behalf of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) when he ran against Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who won the presidential vote at the time.

El Salvador records highest daily increase in coronavirus cases

El Salvador has recorded its highest daily increase in the number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic hit the country. President Nayib Bukele has said that the number of cases has hit 555 after 65 cases were confirmed on Sunday - a 13-percent increase. Compulsory quarantine measures are being enforced until at least 16 May. In total, 12 people have died.

Coronavirus quarantine extended until 16 May

President Nayib Bukele has announced the extension of the current coronavirus quarantine until at least 16 May. President Bukele claimed that El Salvador is passing through a critical phase of the coronavirus infections in the country, mainly exacerbated by community spread. El Salvador has so far confirmed more than 300 coronavirus cases, including nine deaths. President Bukele has been accused of abusing of his political power through the introduction of stringent measures nationwide.

Security measures in prison beefed up amid hike in homicides

El Salvador's government has increased security measures within prisons following a spate of violence was reported across the country. In total, nearly 60 murders were confirmed over the weekend despite the enforcement of a nationwide lockdown. President Nayib Bukele was accused by several NGOs of rights violations after he published a picture of hundreds of inmates gathered on a prison patio. Violence in El Salvador is largely attributed to street gangs that operate from inside prisons. Groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 are the largest ones.

Police officers given authorisation to open fire against gangs

President Nayib Bukele has announced that the security forces have been given green-light to open fire when battling street gangs in El Salvador. The announcement comes after a surge in homicides was reported over the weekend despite stringent coronavirus measures. Last Friday, at least 33 homicides were confirmed nationwide between Friday and Sunday. The government has already accused the country's largest gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, of imposing local lockdowns and taking advantage of the coronavirus emergency.

Health minister says that quarantine measures could be extended

Health Minister Francisco Alabi has said that the coronavirus quarantine in El Salvador could be extended to prevent the further spread of the disease. Alabi has said that the government is currently working on efforts to flatten the infections curve and avoid pressure on the country's health system. Extensions to the quarantine measures in El Salvador have not been formally discussed in parliament yet. The current lockdown will remain in place until the end of the month. President Nayib Bukele has been accused of abusing of his political power after launching a series of stringent measures. El Salvador has confirmed more than 260 coronavirus cases, including eight deaths.

San Salvador's sanitary cordon extended until 28 April

A sanitary cordon implemented in San Salvador earlier this week has been extended until at least 28 April. Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt has announced that certain areas of the historic centre will remain off-limits to most people, with some exceptions. The cordon's perimeter is located between the 25 Avenida Norte, Bulevar Venezuela, 10 Avenida Sur and Alameda Juan Pablo II. So far, more than 230 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in El Salvador, including seven deaths.

Movement restrictions imposed in central San Salvador

Enhanced movement restrictions have been implemented in central San Salvador as local authorities introduce a sanitary cordon to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Police officers and local government agents will enforce some restrictions on those heading in and out central San Salvador. The measure will be initially implemented for 48 hours - it stated on 20 April at 06:00 local time - and could be extended. Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt said that people heading to supermarkets and pharmacies will be only ones allowed to circulate in the perimeter between the 25 Avenida Norte, Bulevar Venezuela, 10 Avenida Sur and Alameda Juan Pablo II. San Salvador has already reported  63 cases of coronavirus, nearly 30 percent of the overall total confirmed in the country.

Lawmakers approve 15-day extension of state of emergency

Lawmakers have approved a 15-day extension to the current state of emergency in El Salvador. Despite initial plans to discuss a specific bill to address the coronavirus pandemic in the country, lawmakers have decided to extend the current emergency decree. The state of emergency in El Salvador is a controversial issue, where the opposition has accused President Nayib Bukele of exceeding some of his powers. The new bill, pushed by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance and backed by other parties will be discussed within the next few weeks. President Bukele has recently rejected several Supreme Court rulings towards his coronavirus measures. 

President Bukele to disregard Surpreme Court rulings on coronavirus

President Nayib Bukele has publicly announced that he may disregard several Supreme Court rulings towards his restrictive coronavirus measures. El Salvador was one of the first countries in Central America to impose a nationwide lockdown. Some of the rulings include a provision that forbids people from being detained for violating coronavirus quarantine. Supreme Court justices claimed that a number of policies imposed threaten people's liberties. He said: “Just as I would not abide by a resolution ordering me to kill Salvadorans, I also cannot abide by a resolution that orders me to let them die.” More than 2,000 people were detained in El Salvador for violating the quarantine. The country has so far reported more than 150 coronavirus cases, including six deaths.

Government extends coronavirus quarantine for 15 days

President Nayib Bukele has announced a 15-day extension on the current quarantine in the country as the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase. The measure was announced on Monday after nine new cases were confirmed in the country. The government claims that all cases in El Salvador are imported. With the new measures, quarantine guidelines will remain in place until at least 07 May. El Salvador has introduced drastic movement restrictions across the country. People have been urged to remain indoors and to only head out to shop for essentials.

El Salvador Airport to remain shut amid coronavirus emergency

El Salvador's San Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (SAL) will remain shut for commercial passenger flights until at least 19 April. According to CEPA, which manages airports in El Salvador, the measure comes amid a nationwide state of emergency. Despite the suspension of operations, some embassies are chartering flights out of El Salvador. For further information, people have been advised to contact their respective diplomatic representation in the country. El Salvador has already confirmed 31 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths.

First coronavirus death confirmed in El Salvador

President Nayib Bukele has confirmed the first coronavirus death in El Salvador. He said on social media that the patient was an over-60 woman who had arrived from the US. In a press conference, Health Minister Francisco Alabi said that the patient died after her respiratory conditions worsened. According to official reports, 32 cases of the coronavirus have been reported so far in El Salvador.

President Bukele confirms first coronavirus case in El Salvador

President Nayib Bukele has announced that the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in El Salvador. Local media reported that the patient is a man. The government claimed that he had entered the country after returning from a trip to Italy. It added that the man entered through a 'blind spot' in the western town of Metapan, located near the Guatemalan border. Metapan has been put under 48-hour lockdown, while police and military checkpoints were erected around the city. El Salvador has already introduced a number of drastic measures to address a future coronavirus outbreak. Among the measures, it banned the entry of foreign nationals into the country.

President Bukele introduces landing restrictions in El Salvador

President Nayib Bukele has announced a temporary suspension of the landing of passenger planes in El Salvador. In a statement released on social media, he announced that only cargo aircraft will be allowed to land at the El Salvador International Airport in San Salvador. The measure will remain in place until further notice. The measures come despite El Salvador not reporting any case of the coronavirus. El Salvador has engaged in a diplomatic row with Mexico after the latter reportedly allowed 12 people infected with the coronavirus to embark in a flight from Mexico City to San Salvador.

President Bukele announces nationwide quarantine

President Nayib Bukele has imposed a nationwide quarantine and enhanced travel restrictions on foreign nationals arriving in the country. Schools will be closed until at least the end of the month, while further documentation will be required on travellers arriving from other countries in Central America. Foreign nationals elsewhere will also be banned from entering the country for the next 30 days. No cases of coronavirus have been so far confirmed in El Salvador.

President Bukele extends ban to travellers arriving from Spain

President Nayib Bukele has extended travel restrictions for foreign nationals from countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement, he said that he had ordered the country's border authority to ban any travellers from Spain. Nationals from several other countries, including France, Germany, China, Italy, Iran and South Korea are already banned from entering the country. No cases of coronavirus have been reported in El Salvador.

Foreign nationals arriving from Italy and South Korea to be denied entry in El Salvador

President Nayib Bukele has announced that foreign nationals arriving from Italy and South Korea will be denied entry into El Salvador. As several countries are introducing measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, the announcement came after both countries experienced a sudden surge in the number of cases. Bukele added that El Salvadoran nations and diplomatic staff will be put on a 30-day quarantined when they return from any of those countries.

Leader of right-wing opposition ARENA resigns

The leader of the right-wing opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), Gustavo Lopez, has announced his resignation five months after being elected as the party leader. Lopez said that his resignation comes as he is set to face judicial procedures involving the company Centrum SA, in which he is a shareholder. Lopez claimed that the investigations are part of a political vendetta from President Nayib Bukele. Erick Salguero will take over ARENA's leadership. This is the second resignation that ARENA faced in less than a year. Last June, Mauricio Interiano resigned after the party lost the presidential election. ARENA dominated El Salvadoran politics for nearly two decades until the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front took over in 2009.

Several killed as bus drives off a cliff in Chiltiupan, La Libertad

At least 11 people have been killed and more than 20 others injured after a bus drove off a cliff in south-western El Salvador. According to the Green Cross, the accident happened near the town of Chiltiupan in the La Libertad department. Several people were taken to the hospital in Santa Tecla in a critical condition. Accidents are common in El Salvador due to reckless driving and poor road conditions. They tend to increase during national festivities.

Major political parties condemn military occupation of Congress

Major political parties in El Salvador have condemned the temporary military occupation of the country's parliament building earlier this week. Members of the armed forces took over the Congress building in San Salvador to support a political address of President Nayib Bukele. Among those that condemned the move were the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). They considered it a coup d'etat. Lawmakers and the government have been disputing the allocation of a multi-million-dollar loan to revamp the armed forces and invest in counter-gang policies. In addition to the opposition, several foreign governments and international organisations condemned the events.

Security forces take over Congress to support President Bukele

Members of the security forces have taken over the main hall of the Congress in San Salvador ahead of a presidential address. Soldiers and police officers loyal to President Nayib Bukele set up security around the parliament as he was set to pressure lawmakers to approve his security policies. President Bukele's supporters also gathered around the congressional building. President Bukele is currently attempting to secure a massive 109-million-dollar loan to revamp the country's security services. Since taking office, he announced the launching of a hardline approach against street gangs in El Salvador.

Judge orders investigation on two former president for alleged gang links

A judge in El Salvador has asked prosecutors to investigate the involvement of street gangs with former president Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Mauricio Funes. Reports show that the investigations would review a suspected agreement between criminal groups and the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The request came after the verdict on more than 300 members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) was released. During the trial, testimonies implicated both presidents over allegations of reaching agreements with the group and for supporting an infamous ceasefire back in 2012. In addition to both presidents, former ministers and other high-level officials were also implicated in the case. Several former presidents and officials have been investigated for collusion with street gangs, which are feared to continuously infiltrate government institutions and the security forces in El Salvador.

HRW report claims that dozens were killed after being deported from the US

A report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has claimed that at least 138 people that had returned from the US in recent years were killed. According to the report, most deaths happened less than a year after their arrival from the US. El Salvador is among the main countries from which migrants take part in US-bound caravans. The country reports one of the highest homicide rates in the Americas, mainly attributed to disputes involving rival street gangs that are also linked to drug-trafficking and extortion. Last October, the US government extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a year to Salvadorans living in the US. The measure came after US President Donald Trump revoked the TPS to several other countries.

AG asks Congress to revoke immunity of former presidential candidate

Attorney General Raul Melara has asked Congress to revoke the political immunity of former presidential candidate Norman Quijano. Melara claimed that the request comes after claims that Quijano negotiated with street gangs during his 2014 campaign. Allegations emerged after a leaked video showed Quijano meeting members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Additionally, he was implicated in a court case part of a major trial against the group. Quijano is member of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). He is currently a member of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador.

Guatemala to allow El Salvador to build port in the Atlantic

El Salvador and Guatemala have reached a historic agreement to promote trade and further regional integration in Central America. In a meeting with his Guatemalan counterpart, Alejandro Giammattei, President Nayib Bukele has signed a deal that would allow El Salvador to build a port in the Atlantic. Such is expected to significantly boost the trade of El Salvadoran goods. President Giammattei praised the initiative and said that arrangements would be made as soon as possible. Additionally, both countries plan to reach an 'open-air' agreement that will consider flights between both countries as domestic. 

Three killed as gunmen raid residence in Ahuachapan

Three people have been killed after armed men raided a house in Ahuachapan, western El Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that criminals wearing masks and military outfit entered the residence in the El Rosario area in Guayamango. According to reports, some of the victims were known for links to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang. Hampering rates of homicide in El Salvador are often attributed to disputes involving rival street gangs.

Former mayor sentenced for colluding with criminal groups in Apopa

A former mayor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for financing street gangs. According to the Republic's General Attorney (FGR), Jose Elias Hernandez provided criminal groups with logistical support in the exchange of votes. Hernandez was the mayor of the northern town of Apopa between 2012 and 2015. FGR reports claim that Hernandez provided fuel, employment and phone lines to assist criminal operations in the city. Corruption plays a major role in El Salvador's hampering levels of crime. Local officials and law enforcement agents are often accused of colluding with criminal groups.

Prosecutors issue arrest warrant against former Congress speaker

Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant against former Congress speaker Sigfrido Reyes for money laundering and other corruption charges. According to the Public Ministry, Reyes has been accused of several crimes that date back to 2006. They confirmed that his activity lasted until 2019. It is believed that Reyes left the country last November. President Nayib Bukele claims that he went to Mexico before possibly heading to France or Russia. Reyes is a former guerilla during the country's civil war and member of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Teacher found dead after being kidnapped in San Miguel

A teacher has been found dead moments after being kidnapped in San Miguel, eastern El Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that the victim was taken when armed criminals raided his home in the town of San Miguel. According to the police, the criminals also robbed valuables and cash from the residence. In an official statement, the police said that investigations have been launched. Kidnappings in El Salvador and other countries in the restive 'Northern Triangle' area usually affect locals. Business owners are often the target of intimidation, attacks and other crimes in areas controlled by criminal groups.

Police officer shot dead in ambush in La Paz

A police officer has been killed after gunmen intercepted his vehicle in La Paz, southern El Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that victim was killed on Monday evening in San Juan Nonualco. According to the police, the off-duty officer was riding a motorcycle when he was targeted. Investigations are still ongoing to assess if the incident is linked to his work as a police officer. Street gangs often target members of the security forces in El Salvador. Official data shows that more than 40 police officers and soldiers were killed across the country in 2019.

Several killed in separate incidents across El Salvador

At least eight people have been killed amid a wave of violence across El Salvador. Local media reported that several separate incidents took place in western Salvador and the departments of Ahuacapan, Santa Ana and La Paz. Reports indicate that due to the number of homicides reported in less than 24 hours, police officers have had their rest day allowance suspended. Police Commissioner Leonel Rivera said that the measure will remain in place until further notice. Rivera claims that the move comes to reinforce security in El Salvador, especially in the western departments.

Intense earthquake reported near San Salvador

An intense 3.9-magnitude earthquake has been recorded near San Salvador. According to the El Salvadoran Environment Ministry, the quake had a depth of more than six kilometres and struck during the morning. At least 10 minors aftershocks were reported in the area. Although the magnitude of the earthquake was relatively low, due to its shallow depth, people in the capital and neighbouring departments could feel its intensity. There were no immediate reports of casualties nor major damages. El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. 

President Bukele expels Venezuelan diplomats

President Nayib Bukele has expelled all diplomats nominated by his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro. In a display of support for Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, diplomats linked to the Maduro administration have been given 48 hours to leave the country. US Ambassador in San Salvador, Ronald Johnson, praised the move. The decision comes due to concerns relating to human rights violations in Venezuela. In a tit-for-tat move, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also ordered El Salvadorian diplomats based in Caracas to leave. Unlike his predecessor, President Bukele has had strained relations with Venezuela. Additional to El Salvador, over 50 countries currently recognise Guaido as the country's interim president.

Social groups call for investigation on murder of trans woman in San Salvador

Rights groups and LGBT associations have condemned the murder of a trans woman in San Salvador. According to reports, Anahi Rivas was kidnapped, tortured and then murdered last Sunday. Dozens of protesters gathered outside the offices of the country's attorney general to demand formal investigations. Data from social organisations show that in almost two decades more than 600 trans people were killed in El Salvador.

Witness in MS-13 mass trial uncovers the group's revenue and arsenal

A key witness in a high-profile case against the infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang has claimed that the group has revenues of $2.7m per month. An unnamed witnesse told prosecutors that the MS-13 also has on its possession more than 700 rifles of military use. The witness has been described as a former member of the national command structure of the MS-13. He said that the group's main sources of income are extortion and drug-trafficking. EFE reported that the witness has also accused high-level politicians of colluding with the group. Among them is San Salvador's Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt and several officials of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). During the trial, more than 150 people were deposed, while dozens are expected to testify before judges. Most of the suspects were detained back in 2018 after a large-scale operation across the country.

Several killed as heavy rainfall batters El Salvador

At least four people have been killed across El Salvador after heavy rainfall battered the country on Monday. ECHO reported that hundreds of people have been evacuated after a massive landslide hit the town of Ilopango, San Salvador. Heavy rainfall is forecast to persist in both north and southern El Salvador as two low-pressure systems approach the country. Flooding and mudslides may occur in some mountain areas. According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), one of the systems may become a tropical depression within the next few days as it moves along the country's Pacific coast.

Mass trial involving hundreds of suspected gang members kicks off in El Salvador

A mass trial involving more than 420 suspected gang members has started in El Salvador. AP reported that suspected members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 will face a lengthy court procedure that could last until at least November. According to reports, more than 150 people were deposed, while dozens are expected to testify before judges. Most of the suspects were detained back in 2018 after a large-scale operation across the country. Local media reported that 17 gang leaders are among those accused of murder and arms trafficking. Reports suggest that parts of the trial will be based on declarations of a key witness, who is reportedly a former MS-13 member. La Prensa Grafica reported that he agreed a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.

Former justice minister detained over corruption case

Former Justice Minister Rene Mario Figueroa has been detained as part of a corruption case. Figueroa has turned himself in after the police searched his house. Figueroa is accused of money laundering after he and his wife diverted more than a million dollars. He was minister during the administration of President Antonio Saca, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for corruption. Saca himself is accused of embezzling up to $300m in public funds.

Police officers detained in crackdown on criminal group in eastern El Salvador

A major criminal network that involved several police officers has been dismantled in eastern El Salvador. Justice Minister Rogelio Rivas said that 11 people were detained in total. AP reported that nearly 40 arrest warrants were issued across the departments of San Miguel and Usulutan. According to reports, the group is believed to have carried out dozens of contract killings and kidnappings between 2016 and 2017. For many years, police officers in El Salvador have been accused of colluding with criminal groups. Rights organisations also argue that security forces are often linked to extrajudicial killings.

Right-wing opposition ARENA swears in its new leadership

El Salvador's right-wing opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) has sworn in its new leadership in a fresh bid to relaunch the party in the aftermath of the last presidential elections. Gustavo Lopez Davidson has been sworn in as the new ARENA leader after winning an internal poll back in August. In a speech, he criticised the 10-year administration of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and that he intends to closely cooperate with President Nayib Bukele. ARENA's Carlos Calleja came in second place in the presidential vote. Besides losing to the emerging Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), the party has also been tainted by a major corruption scandal implicating former President Antonio Saca.

Former President Saca sentenced to additional two years in prison

Former President Antonio Saca has been sentenced to an additional two years after pleading guilty to bribing a court employee. According to the state attorney's office, Saca paid $10k to get access to confidential court documents. Saca was detained back in 2016 and is currently serving a 10-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. He is a former member of the National Republic Alliance (ARENA) and served as the country's president between 2004 and 2009. El Salvador has faced several cases of corruption involving high-level officials. Besides Saca, another former president, Mauricio Funes, is also being accused of corruption - Funes is currently exiled in Nicaragua. Saca's new sentence comes as President Nayib Bukele announced the new International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), an anti-corruption body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS).

Police investigate clandestine grave found in Colon, La Libertad

Police are investigating the discovery of a clandestine grave in a town near San Salvador. Local media reported that human remains were recovered from an isolated terrain in the Villa Lourdes area in Colon, La Libertad. Authorities said that it may take several weeks to investigate the area and that as many as six bodies may be buried at the site. So far in 2019, official data revealed that more than 1,000 people have been reported missing in El Salvador. Clandestine graves are sporadically found in areas often controlled by powerful street gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18.

UN delegation sent to support new anti-corruption commission

A UN delegation will arrive in El Salvador to support the new International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), an anti-corruption body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS). After a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, El Salvador's Vice-President Felix Ulloa said that “an important ally has joined the fight against corruption and impunity". CICIES is one of the first steps of the Bukele administration to address the long-standing issue of government corruption in the country. In recent years, corruption scandals have tainted El Salvadoran politics after high-level officials and two former presidents, Antonio Saca and Mauricio Funes, were implicated in massive money laundering and embezzlement schemes.

Local shop owner shot dead in Aguilares

A local shop owner has been killed after in armed attack in Aguilares, western El Salvador. According to media reports, the 48-year-old victim was returning from church when he was targeted near his home in the San Rafael neighbourhood. Police are currently investigating the motives behind the incident and if it is related to extortion. Street gangs in El Salvador often target shop owners and transport companies' employees that fail to pay them. El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Latin America. Reports indicate that over 560 people were killed in the country in the last three months.

Hundreds of police officers deployed to border areas to tackle mass US-bound migration

Hundreds of police officers have been deployed to the border areas with Honduras and Guatemala in efforts to tackle mass US-bound migration. In a statement, the government confirmed that additional police and immigration officers will be placed on the La Hachadura crossing, one of the main routes used by migrant caravans heading towards Guatemala. Previously, the US has threatened to cut aid to Central American nations if they failed to address mass migration. Last month, President Nayib Bukele met with acting US Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan, where further cooperation was agreed.

President Bukele launches OAS-backed anti-corruption commission

President Nayib Bukele has announced the launching of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), an anti-corruption body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS). Since his campaign, President Bukele has pushed for enhanced policies to address corruption in El Salvador. Bukele was the first president in decades without links to the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) or the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA). In a statement, he said: “The people aren’t just calling for corruption to be fought, it wants corruption to be fought with a CICIES". The CICIES is expected to follow similar terms to other commissions in Guatemala and Honduras. Corruption has tainted El Salvadoran politics after two former presidents, Antonio Saca and Mauricio Funes, were implicated in massive money laundering and embezzlement scandals.

Health ministry investigate deaths potentially linked to dengue fever

Health Minister Ana Orellana has ordered investigations into 10 deaths which could be linked to dengue fever. Amid a massive increase in the number of cases in El Salvador compared with the previous year, the latest health reported confirmed that more than 160 cases were confirmed in 2019. At least seven people have been killed in El Salvador this year. Central America is facing a significant hike in the number of dengue fever cases - in comparison, Honduras has recorded more than 50,000 cases. Dengue fever is common in Latin America and the Caribbean. Symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash. In more severe cases, symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, cold and drowsiness.

Singer shot dead during concert in Sonsonate

A 27-year-old singer has been shot dead during a concert in the Sonsonate department of western El Salvador. Cesar Canales was performing with his band, Apes of God, at the 'Green Metal Concert' - an event being hosted by the Rancho Grande restaurant in the town of Armenia, Sonsonate - when he was shot dead on Saturday afternoon. The suspect, 36-year-old Wilber Isidro Orellana Martínez - believed to be a concert-goer, has been detained. The authorities are currently investigating the motives behind the shooting, while police reports suggest Orellana may have argued with Canales before killing him. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in Central America. Most incidents are often related to disputes and retaliation involving street gangs, such as the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The band has announced their dissolution following Canales' death.

Exiled former President Funes granted Nicaraguan citizenship

Exiled former President Mauricio Funes has been granted Nicaraguan citizenship, which may frustrate government plans to trial him in El Salvador. Funes is accused of embezzling over $350 during his five-year administration back in 2009. Funes and his family live in Nicaragua since 2016. In March, El Salvador's Supreme Court has approved an extradition request to Funes, who is a close ally to Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega. Funes claims that he is being politically persecuted. He is a member of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which suffered a major loss in the last presidential elections. Article 43 of the Nicaraguan Constitution dictates that: "Nicaraguans shall not be objects of extradition from the national territory".

Powerful 5.9-magnitude earthquake recorded off Puerto La Libertad

A powerful 5.9-magnitude earthquake has been recorded off the coast of El Salvador. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the tremor hit in the early hours of Wednesday morning several kilometres southeast of Puerto La Libertad. It struck at a depth of more than 72 kilometres. Government Minister Mario Duran said that there was no immediate tsunami threat and that no major infrastructure damage was reported. Reports revealed that airports, highways, ports and hospitals are operating normally. El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. 

Police officers and soldiers to patrol public transport nationwide

More than 2,500 police officers and soldiers are set to be deployed to patrol public transport across El Salvador. The National Civil Police (PNC) has said that police officers and soldiers will patrol major areas and randomly board buses and other public means of transport. The move comes as part of the 'Plan de Control Territorial', which seeks to enhance security measures across high-risk areas in at least a dozen cities in El Salvador, including San Salvador. Most recently, President Bukele has launched a crackdown on the financing of street gangs, including the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Criminal gangs usually target public transportation companies in extortion schemes and usually retaliate against business owners who fail to comply with demands.

Several bodies recovered in clandestine grave in San Salvador

At least 11 bodies have been recovered from a clandestine grave in San Salvador. Local media reported that police officers found a common grave believed to be used by members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang. Authorities claim that search efforts are still ongoing and that as many as 30 bodies are believed to be buried at the site located in Ilopango. Reports show that four police officers that disappeared in late-2016 are among the victims. It is estimated that more than 3,000 people were reported missing in El Salvador in 2018 alone. Most cases involve street gangs such as the MS-13 and Barrio 18. Most recently, President Nayib Bukele has stepped up efforts to counter those groups, which included a state of emergency declaration on prisons.

Court clears two former presidents of corruption charges

A court in El Salvador has cleared two former presidents accused of money laundering linked to diverting millions from an international donation. Antonio Saca and late President Francisco Flores were being investigated for mishandling up to $10m donated by Taiwan for the 2001 earthquake victims. Both were being investigated alongside three members of the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) party. Saca is currently jailed after being charged with corruption. He is accused of embezzling and laundering more than $300m, which were diverted from the country's treasury to personal bank accounts. 

El Salvador re-admitted as member of international anti-money laundering group

El Salvador has been re-admitted as a member of the Egmont Group, an international network of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) aimed to tackle transnational money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit activities. In a statement released on social media, the Attorney General's Office said that El Salvador's FIU was reinstated as a member of the Egmont Group. El Salvador was suspended from the group back in October when former President Salvador Ceren vetoed a bill aimed to grant more independence to the country's FIU. The veto came amid investigations on alleged collusion between members of the Attorney General's Office and former President Mauricio Funes. President Nayib Bukele has recently announced that the government will step up efforts to directly target the financing of street groups based in the country. In total, the Egmont Group is comprised of 159 FIUs.

Health authorities warn of potential dengue fever outbreak across El Salvador

Health authorities are warning of potential dengue fever outbreaks in most municipalities across El Salvador. So far this year, more than 4,100 cases of dengue fever have been confirmed, leading to a massive increase of more than 200 percent compared with the same period in 2018. A surge in dengue fever cases has been also reported in neighbouring Guatemala and Honduras, where additional 17,400 cases were collectively confirmed. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common in Latin America and the Caribbean. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle and joint pain.

President Bukele orders expansion of state of emergency in prisons

President Nayib Bukele has ordered the expansion of the current state of emergency across El Salvadoran prisons. In a statement released on social media, President Bukele has ordered the head of the country's prison system, Osiris Luna, to declare a maximum alert in all prisons in El Salvador. With the measure, inmates would be banned from leaving their cells. The declaration comes after a police officer was killed by suspect members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Since taking office, President Bukele has stepped up efforts to counter street gangs. He is set to launch a new multi-million dollar plan to enhance security measures across El Salvador and directly target the MS-13 and Barrio 18 factions. So far this year, at least 24 police officers were killed in El Salvador.

Military veterans continue to launch frequent roadblocks in western El Salvador

Frequent roadblocks have been reported across western El Salvador as military veteran groups continue to launch protests nationwide. For several weeks, veteran groups have been staging sporadic protests across the country to demand the government to grant them state benefits. Incidents have been reported in Sonsonate and La Libertad. Protests became frequent since legislation to attribute pensions to former military and guerillas was reformed.

Hundreds of gang members transferred to other prisons nationwide

More than 1,600 inmates linked to the infamous Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-17) gangs have been transferred to multiple prisons across El Salvador as part of government plans to tackle high-levels of criminality in the country. Authorities confirmed that the transfer comes as part of the Territorial Control Plan, which seeks to enhance law-enforcement capabilities to tackle such groups. A state of emergency was already launched in 28 prions across the country, where thousands of additional police officers and soldiers were deployed. The move comes just as the government ordered telecom companies to block phone signals from prisons and to target the gangs' sources of revenue.

Government order telecom companies to block prisons' phone signals

President Nayib Bukele has ordered telecom companies to block mobile phone signals inside prisons and detention facilities. In a fresh move to crackdown on prison-based gangs in El Salvador, the government has given phone companies up to 72 hours to comply with the demand. Criminal groups based in Central America often operate from inside prisons. High-level criminals order assassinations and other crimes in Central America and the US while they are incarcerated. Last week, President Bukele has said that he will directly target gangs' finances in a move to cut off their sources of revenue. 

Health authorities on alert due to increased risks of mosquito-borne diseases

Health authorities have stepped up efforts on tackling mosquito-borne diseases due to a surge in mosquito breeding grounds in El Salvador. El Salvador's Health Surveillance Director reported the potential increase in risks associated with dengue fever and zika virus across the country. More than 200 municipalities, mostly located in southern and north-western El Salvador, are on alert. Authorities in neighbouring Honduras have declared a state of emergency across 12 departments after dengue fever caused more than 30 deaths. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common in Latin America. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle and joint pain.

Police to target street gangs' finances

President Nayib Bukele has announced that the government will focus efforts on targeting the finances of powerful street gangs in El Salvador. In a conference, the newly-elected president said that a joint effort involving several law-enforcement and judicial agencies will directly target their sources of revenue. Street gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, are often involved in extortion against local business owners. Reports suggest that most cases of extortion are reported in San Salvador, Mejicanos, Apopa, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Santa Tecla and Soyapango. President Bukele also said that his administration is not engaging in peace talks with street gangs. In recent weeks, street gangs have been responsible for systematically targeting law-enforcement agents. In less than a week, four officers were killed across El Salvador.

Former VP claims victory in FMLN leadership contest

Former VP Oscar Ortiz has claimed victory in the leadership contest of the left-wing opposition Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). Ortiz claimed that he won in most departments although no official results from the party's electoral commission were announced. FMLN held a leadership contest after the party suffered a major blow in the past legislative and presidential elections. Ortiz was the vice-president to President Salvador Ceren, who left office in June. El Salvador's traditional political parties suffered a heavy defeat after Nayib Bukele, of the right-wing Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), was elected president.

President Bukele accuse FMLN officials of financing street gangs

President Nayib Bukele has called for investigations into high-level members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) for allegedly financing street gangs. President Bukele claims that intelligence agencies have identified several members of the left-wing party who paid criminals to destabilise the current administration and the police force. In less than a week, at least three police officers have been killed across El Salvador. Former President Salvador Sanchez Ceren has previously claimed that the leadership of street gangs is pushing efforts to compromise security policies in the country.

Police officer killed in armed ambush in Chalchuapa

A police officer has been killed during an armed ambush in Chalchuapa, near Santa Ana. La Prensa Grafica reported that the officers were carrying out patrol duties when they were targeted. It is estimated that more than 20 police officers were killed this year across El Salvador. Most incidents involve retaliations from street gangs. Earlier in May, the outgoing government claimed that street gangs were stepping up their operations to pressure President Nayib Bukele, who was sworn into office last week, to hold truce talks.

Military to continue support to police across El Salvador

More than 10,000 soldiers will continue to patrol the streets across El Salvador to tackle violent street gangs nationwide. President Nayib Bukele, who took office on Sunday, is set to continue the cooperation between the police and the military in addressing the country's current security situation. For years, the military has been deployed to assist law enforcement agencies to battle violent criminal groups. Although some improvements have been made, rights and social organisations raised concerns over abuse of power, forced disappearances and rights violations.

Nayib Bukele sworn in as El Salvador's president

Nayib Bukele has been sworn in as El Salvador's president. After achieving a historic victory in the presidential vote held in February, he puts an end to decades of dominance of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and ARENA parties, two traditional political platforms in El Salvador. He is the leader of the conservative Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA). Bukele is considered an outsider in the national political arena despite being the former mayor of San Salvador. He is an avid critic of El Salvador's poor social policies, the inefficiency of which is said to be responsible for fuelling the recruitment of youngsters to street gangs. He is further expected to reshape the long-standing foreign policy of El Salvador, both regionally and with the US.

Powerful earthquake strikes off La Libertad

A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake has been recorded off the coast of El Salvador. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was recorded nearly 30km off La Libertad. El Salvador's Civil Protection authority is currently monitoring the situation, while the military is also ready to intervene if necessary. Travellers are advised to follow the advice of the local authorities and monitor news from reputable sources, such as the Proteccion Civil El Salvador. A tsunami alert was issued along parts of the coast. Visitors should avoid heading to mountainous areas due to the high risk of landslides and they should also be prepared for potential evacuations near coastal areas. El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Government claims pressure from street gangs to hold talks with incoming administration

El Salvador's outgoing government has claimed that street gangs are currently pressuring the incoming administration of President-elect Nayib Bukele to engage in truce talks. Amid a wave of violent attacks against security forces and the military, the government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren claims that the leadership of street gangs are pushing efforts to compromise security policies. President Sanchez Ceren said that criminals are intensifying their campaigns to pressure the incoming government to hold negotiations. President-elect Bukele, who is set to take office in June, has previously said that he is not willing to hold talks with street gangs. In 2012, embattled President Mauricio Funes brokered a controversial truce with major street gangs in El Salvador. In the first months of the truce, homicide levels in El Salvador significantly dropped. Sanchez Ceren was the country's vice-president at the time.

Senior MS-13 member detained in police operation in San Salvador

A presumed senior member of the street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) has been detained in a police operation in San Salvador. Romar Reyes is accused of ordering the killing of police officers in El Salvador. He is believed to be a member of the gang's national command structure. The arrest comes days after several police officers and soldiers were killed in separate armed attacks across the country. Alongside the Barrio 18, MS-13 is responsible for often engaging in clashes with security forces. According to official data, more than a dozen police officers have been killed in the country since the beginning of the year.

Police officers injured in suspected car bomb explosion in Soyapango

Two police officers have been injured after a suspected car bomb exploded in Soyapango, near San Salvador. Local media reported that the officers were inspecting an abandoned vehicle in a football field when the suspected device went off. Police anti-corruption director, German Arriaza, said that investigations have been launched to assess who planted the device. Although incidents involving explosive devices are rare in El Salvador, some have been reported on previous occasions. Last February, two members of local police in Santa Tecla were injured when an abandoned bomb-laden vehicle went off on a highway.

Soldiers and police officers killed in wave of violence across El Salvador

Three soldiers and two police officers have been killed in several incidents across El Salvador. According to the National Police, the incidents happened on Sunday in separate locations in Ahuachapan, Santa Tecla and Sonzacaste. In one of the incidents, a 25-year-old soldier was stabbed to death in the north-western town of Ahuachapan. Security forces and law enforcement agents are often targeted by street gangs based in El Salvador. According to official data, more than a dozen police officers have been killed in the country since the beginning of the year. 

Police record increasing number of road accidents ahead of Easter holidays

At least 10 people have been killed in road accidents during the first few days of the Easter holidays in El Salvador. According to the police, more than 100 accidents were reported nationwide over the weekend, a significant increase compared with previous years. The incidence of traffic accidents in El Salvador and across Central America tends to increase on periods before and after the Easter holidays. Millions take to the roads to head to coastal areas or visit relatives during Holy Week. Most accidents are caused by reckless driving, poor road conditions and driving under the influence.

US cut aid to Central American countries for failing to curb migration

US President Donald Trump has announced that he is cutting aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras due to their inefficiency in tackling migration. A week after another US-bound migrant caravan took off from Central America, President Trump has said that Central American governments are not doing enough to block migrants from heading to the US. He said: "We stopped payment to Honduras, to Guatemala, and to El Salvador. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we're not paying them anymore because they haven't done a thing for us". The US significantly contributes to financing security and development programmes in Central America. However, since President Trump took office, aid to El Salvador and other Central American countries has been drastically reduced. Thousands of Central American migrants took part in multiple migrant caravans towards the US. Most are currently in the bordering town of Tijuana, northern Mexico.

Supreme Court approve extradition request for former President Funes

The Supreme Court has approved the extradition request for former President Mauricio Funes, who is currently exiled in Nicaragua. In a renewed push to bring Funes back to El Salvador, magistrates unanimously voted to approve the request from the country's attorney general. Funes is accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds during his administration. He is a member of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a close ally to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Funes denied any wrongdoing and said that all charges are politically motivated. El Salvador has recently elected Nayib Bukele as the new president. The former mayor of San Salvador has pledged to tackle corruption in the country. Among his plans is the potential establishment of a UN-backed anti-corruption body in El Salvador.

Health authorities report increase in dengue fever cases in Sonsonate

Health authorities have reported a significant increase in dengue fever cases in Sonsonate, south-western El Salvador. According to recent reports, nearly 50 suspected cases of dengue fever were so far reported across the department in 2019. Most cases have affected children from the towns of Sonsonate, Acajutla, Izalco, Santo Domingo and Sonzacate. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common in Latin America. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle and joint pain.

Court requests Interpol to issue red notice against President Funes

A court in El Salvador has requested that Interpol issue a red notice to capture former President Mauricio Funes. Funes has been charged with money laundering for allegedly embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds. He is being accused of corruption alongside the country's former attorney general, Luis Martinez, who is currently jailed in San Salvador. Funes and his family are in Nicaragua, where they received political asylum back in 2016. Funes was a member of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which suffered a massive loss in last Sunday's presidential election.

Nayib Bukele wins landslide victory in presidential election

Nayib Bukele has won a landslide victory in last Sunday's presidential election. Preliminary results show that Bukele won more than 54 percent of the votes, crushing his opponents of the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and ARENA. Bukele is the former mayor of San Salvador and leader of the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA). His election puts an end to decades of FMLN and ARENA dominance in El Salvadoran politics. Bukele has vowed to end corruption in El Salvador and to address street gangs and long-needed social reforms. El Salvador reports one of the highest murder rates in the world.

El Salvador to face presidential elections

El Salvadorans will head to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president. Preliminary polls suggest that Nayib Bukele, the candidate for the centre-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), is leading the vote, while he is followed by Carlos Calleja of the ARENA Party and Hugo Martinez of the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). If he wins, Bukele will be the first El Salvadoran president in the last 30 years not to be affiliated to the ARENA nor FMLN parties. Bukele is the former mayor of San Salvador and holds increasing influence from young voters. He previously criticised corruption within the ARENA and FMLN. However, if elected, Bukele will face resistance to pass bills in parliament, which is still dominated by the ARENA and FMLN.

Hundreds arrested for links to street gangs in El Salvador

More than 300 suspected criminals have been arrested in a massive police operation launched over the weekend. According to the police, 318 people were arrested for suspected links to street gangs involved with homicides and attacks against security forces. Among those detained, around 180 of them are members of the infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The operation came after a hike in homicides was reported in the country since the start of the year. The MS-13 and their main rivals, Barrio 18, are often engaged in extortion, homicides, kidnappings and attacks against security forces across Central America.

Homicides suffer significant increase ahead of presidential election in February

El Salvador's Minister of Justice and Public Safety Mauricio Ramirez has said that the street gangs are expected to become more active ahead of the upcoming presidential election in early-February. Reports suggest that nearly 170 people have been murdered in the country since the start of the year. Ramirez said that the criminals are pressuring candidates to include them on their political platforms. Front-runner Nayib Bukele of the right-wing Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) is expected to make significant gains against traditional political parties. The ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has already announced that former minister Hugo Martinez is their candidate, while the opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) chose Carlos Calleja to represent the party. Street gangs have long exerted influence in political processes in El Salvador. The country reports one of the highest murder rates in the Americas, mostly attributed to factions of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18.

Several buses set ablaze in San Salvador

Three buses have been set on fire during an alleged arson attack in San Salvador. Local media reported that the vehicles were targeted overnight on Monday in the town of Apopa. No casualties were reported as the vehicles were empty and parked at a local garage. Preliminary reports suggest that the attack may be linked to extortion, but this has not been confirmed and investigations are still ongoing. Public transport companies across Central America are often targeted by criminal groups. Vehicles and company employees are usually attacked if they fail to comply with extortion demands.

Former President Funes faces fresh corruption charges

Prosecutors in El Salvador have accused former President Mauricio Funes of money laundering. Funes is accused of embezzling more than $108m to build the El Chaparral dam. Last year, prosecutors requested his extradition from Nicaragua after he was accused of embezzling further $350m in public funds. Funes ruled El Salvador between 2009 and 2014. He was a member of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). El Salvador is set to hold its presidential elections in early-February. Preliminary polls show that the FMLN is showing poor results against the opposition Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) and the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) - the FMLN is in power since 2009.

Authorities discover suspect mass grave in San Salvador

Dozens of bodies are believed to have been buried in a mass grave found near San Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that security services headed to Ilopango to locate a presume burial site of four soldiers that were reported kidnapped back in late-2016. Prosecutor Douglas Melendez has said that up to 30 bodies may be buried at the site, which is located in the area around Vila al Lago. Mass graves are occasionally found across El Salvador, especially in territories disputes by rival street gangs.

Scores killed amid wave of violence across El Salvador

At least 20 people have been killed nationwide amid a wave of violence over the weekend. La Prensa Grafica reported that incidents happened in the departments of La Libertad, San Salvador, Usulutan and Sansonate. Most of them are believed to be gang-related, while other incidents included the death of a police officer and a woman. El Salvador records one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America. Most cases are related to territorial disputes between street gangs or episodes of domestic violence.

Protester killed as clashes escalate in Santa Tecla

At least one person has been killed and scores were injured when violent clashes broke out in Santa Tecla, outskirts of El Salvador. According to prosecutors, tensions escalated between riot police officers and informal street vendors after protesters blocked access to the municipal market. La Prensa Grafica reported that the victim was shot and succumbed to his wounds after taken to a hospital. The police action came amid an ongoing municipal project aimed at barring the presence of street sellers in Santa Tecla.

Police investigate robberies outside banks in Santa Ana

El Salvador's National Police (PNC) is currently investigating a wave of robberies reported outside banks in Santa Ana, western El Salvador. La Prensa Grafica reported that at least four similar incidents took place across the city in recent weeks. The latest incident led to the death of a 79-year-old man, who was killed after several criminals targeted him after he left a bank in the Mercado Colon area. PNC said that it is possible that such crimes are being carried out by an emerging criminal gang. Such groups are often known for following their victims before they enter a bank or withdraw money from ATMs. Travellers are advised to remain vigilant to their surroundings as caution is widely advisable, especially during the night. 

Thousands take part in fresh US-bound caravan from El Salvador

More than 2,000 migrants have started a march as part of a second US-bound caravan from El Salvador. Organisers told Reuters that the march is approaching Guatemala and Mexico. At least three separate caravans are currently heading towards the US, which pressured governments in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico to halt them before reaching the US border. Security measures along land borders in those countries have been reinforced as on some occasions, violent clashes have been reported. Migrants claim that they are fleeing high-levels of criminality. US President Donald Trump has recently announced that up to 15,000 soldiers will be deployed along the southern border to tackle the caravans.

Strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake recorded off Acajutla

A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Monday morning off the coast of El Salvador. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was recorded southwest of the coastal town of Acajutla. El Salvador's Red Cross confirmed that no casualties or major damages were reported. El Salvador is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Security to be enhanced ahead of coffee harvest season

El Salvador's National Police (PNC) has announced new security measures to protect coffee farms ahead of the start of the next harvest season. In a statement, the PNC said that more than 1,500 additional police officers will be deployed across nearly 20 rural plants to counter criminal gangs engaged in extortion. PNC is currently working with farmers' associations to identify critical areas. Although coffee prices have plummeted in recent years, the industry is still one of the most important in El Salvador's economy - it represents up to three per cent of the country's GDP.

Weather alert issued due to heavy rainfall in El Salvador

Weather alerts have been issued nationwide as heavy rainfall is forecast to batter the country over the next few days. El Salvador's Civil Protection authority has said that 39 cities are under a yellow alert due to adverse weather conditions expected in the next 72 hours. A low-pressure system is currently generating rough conditions across Central America. It is currently located east of Nicaragua. The risks of landslides is higher in areas situated near volcano slopes, such as the towns of San Miguel, San Jorge, Chinameca and San Rafael, which are located around the south-eastern San Miguel Volcano.

Heavy rains kill 12 across Central America

At least 12 people have been killed after heavy rains battered several countries across Central America. Two children and their mother died when a landslide hit their house in Honduras, while four others died and 7,000 evacuated in the country. Two people died and 10 others were wounded in El Salvador, while one death was recorded in Costa Rica and in Guatemala, a child is missing and feared dead.

Presidential campaign kicks off ahead of 2019 elections

El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) has announced that the 2019 presidential campaign has officially kicked off on Tuesday. The vote is scheduled to occur in early-February, when front-runner Nayib Bukele of the right-wing Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) is expected to make significant gains against traditional political platforms. Parties have until early-November to submit its candidates. The ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has already announced that former minister Hugo Martinez is their candidate, while the opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) chose Carlos Calleja to represent the party.

Prosecutors request former President Funes's extradition

Prosecutors have requested the extradition of former President Mauricio Funes for his alleged involvement in a massive corruption scandal. Funes and several of his family members have been accused of embezzling more than $351m in public funds. According to AP, his extradition came after investigations on money allocated to a Taiwan-based fund set up during his administration. Funes is currently exiled in Nicaragua after being charged with illicit enrichment. Last week, his predecessor, Elias Antonio Saca, was sentenced for 10 years on corruption charges.

Former President Saca sentenced for corruption

Former President Elias Antonio Saca has been sentenced for 10 years in prison after being charged with money laundering and embezzlement. Last month, Antonio Saca reached a plea bargain deal with prosecutors after he admitted funnelling public funds to his Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Several other former politicians were also sentenced for up to 16 years. Saca is the first president in the country's history to be sentenced.

Ruling party nominates Hugo Martinez as presidential candidate

El Salvador's ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) has officially nominated former minister Hugo Martinez as the presidential candidate ahead of the 2019 elections. The FMLN seeks its third consecutive term in office as President Salvador Sanchez Ceren faces unprecedented levels of unpopularity. Karina Sosa has been nominated as his VP. Martinez is set to face the right-wing opposition, comprised by the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the National Unit Alliance (GANA). 

MS-13 members detained in massive nationwide operation

At least 50 suspected members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) have been detained in a massive nationwide operation in El Salvador. According to the National Civil Police (PNC), the operations took place across six departments along the Pacific coast. Several senior members of MS-13 factions were among those detained. Most suspects are accused of kidnap, extortion, murder and drug-trafficking. Last week, hundreds of MS-13 members were sentenced for terrorism. Alongside the Barrio 18, the MS-13 is one of the most dangerous street gangs in El Salvador.

Scores of MS-13 senior members sentenced for terrorism

Nearly 50 senior members of the notorious street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) have been sentenced for terrorism, extortion, kidnapping and robbery in El Salvador. According to reports, lengthy investigations concluded that key criminal leader would still command operations while arrested. La Prensa Grafica reported that alias 'Clown', one of the most wanted criminals in El Salvador, was sentenced to more than 300 years. MS-13 is a transnational criminal organisation based in Central America. Since 2015, the government has been launching a stronger approach to criminality in El Salvador after the Supreme Court designated street gangs as terrorist groups.

Warning issued due to strong waves along Pacific coast

El Salvador's Environment Ministry (MARN) has issued a warning for risks associated with tidal waves. The alert is active until Monday, where rough sea conditions are expected along the entire Pacific coast. Travellers are advised to follow local authorities recommendation. Strong winds and powerful waves have significantly increased the risk of drowning. Local media reported that four tourists have been dragged when strong current hit them at El Majahual beach in La Libertad.

Dutch tourist killed in car crash in La Libertad

A 28-year-old Dutch tourist has been killed in a road crash in La Libertad, southern El Salvador. Local media reported that the crash occurred along the Carretera Litoral. Gerben Eskes and his girlfriend headed to Central America for a three-week holiday. The accident happened when they were heading to the airport in the early hours of Thursday morning. Reports suggest that a vehicle coming in the opposite direction crashed into their taxi. Police revealed that the other driver was drunk.

Former President Saca reaches deal amid corruption trial

Former President Antonio Elias Saca has reached a plea bargain deal amid his corruption trial. Saca is accused of embezzling and laundering more than $300m, which were diverted from the country's treasury to personal bank accounts. Three other former politicians linked to his administration were also sentenced. Prosecutors revealed that Saca may face up to 10 years in prison. Saca admitted the charges but disagreed with the amount claimed to be diverted. Saca was the member of the right-wing ARENA party, which had a number of its politicians charged with corruption.

Dozens of MS-13 members detained in nationwide operation

El Salvador's Attorney General's Office has issued an arrest warrant to more than 200 members of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang. Around 50 suspects were detained during police raids overnight on Monday. Most of them were arrested in Sonsonate and Ahuchapan, while arrest warrants were also issued to the departments of San Miguel and La Union. The MS-13 is one of the most violent gangs in El Salvador. Together with its rivals, the Barrio 18, they are responsible for the country's high rates of homicide.

Civil protection issues alert due to drought in El Salvador

El Salvador Civil Protection authority has issued an alert to guarantee the supply of food amid the country's current drought. Although El Salvador is facing its rainy season until November, increasing temperatures have caused severe drought across the country for more than a month, triggering water shortages and massive losses in the agricultural sector. The alert comes to assist the government in establishing contingency plans to provide support to families based in rural areas, especially across the eastern departments of San Miguel, Usulutan, La Union and Morazan.

President Ceren summoned to testify over 1979 diplomat kidnap

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren has been summoned to testify over the kidnapping of a South African diplomat back in 1979. President Ceren is a former rebel leader part of the Liberation People’s Forces (FPL) which has been accused of the abduction of Archibald Gardner Dunn. A presidential spokesman said that the summoning is politically-motivated. Dunn reportedly died in 1980. A lawsuit was filed claiming that he died despite the payment of a two-million-dollar ransom. The FPL later merged to become part of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Thousands march in San Salvador against water system privatisation

Thousands took to the streets of San Salvador to protest against government plans to privatise the public water system. The major demonstration was comprised of students and staff members of the University of El Salvador (UES), who marched towards Congress. Opposition members of the ARENA party and the ruling FMLN also took part in the protest, which further included environmental groups and workers' syndicates. The march comes amid rising concerns over a potential hydric crisis in the country triggered due to the collapse of a key water system in central El Salvador.

Police officer killed in armed attack in Ipalcingo

A 32-year-old police officer has been killed during an armed attack in Ilopango, central El Salvador. Alejandro Monge Flores was shot dead alongside a local fisherman in the area near Dolores Apulo. Local media reported that the attack was carried out by a local criminal group. The incident happened a day after a taxi driver was killed in San Jose, the southern area of San Salvador. The area has been known for the operation of criminal groups, which often target taxi drivers.

Former president to go on trial over money laundering charges

Former President Elias Antonio Saca and six other former government officials are set to go on trial over money laundering charges. Saca is being accused of embezzling and laundering more than $300m, which were diverted from the country's treasury to personal bank accounts. He and several members of the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) have been detained since 2016. Saca denies any wrongdoing.

Hundreds taken to shelters amid earthquake series

Nearly 2,500 people nationwide have been taken to temporary shelters after hundreds of earthquakes struck El Salvador. Since early-May, a number of low to medium-intensity quakes have been reported across the country. Reports suggest that the intensity, magnitude and frequency of the quakes have significantly lowered in recent days; however, seismic activity is likely to continue in the coming weeks. Travellers are advised caution and to follow local media and recommendations of emergency services.

Earthquake series strike eastern El Salvador

Hundreds of houses and buildings were damaged after a strong earthquake series struck eastern El Salvador. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), more than nine earthquakes stronger than a 4.3-magnitude were recorded on Monday morning. No casualties were immediately reported. An alert was issued to the departments of Chirilagua, San Miguel and La Union, while the area most affected was along the Honduran border. Landslides also affected a highway leading to the Playa El Cuco. USGS said that aftershocks are possible in the coming days or weeks. 

Journalist kidnapped and killed in Santa Ana

A 33-year-old journalist has been kidnapped and later found dead in Santa Ana, north-western El Salvador. Karla Lisseth Turcios worked for the El Economista magazine. Police reports revealed that Turcios was reported missing on Saturday morning and that she was found strangled along a local highway a day later. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren condemned the attack and ordered a thorough investigation. Preliminary reports suggest that there are no indication that the crime was committed due to her work as a journalist.

Two gang members killed in police clash

Two gang members from Barrio 18 have been killed in a clash with police in Izalco. The two deceased men have been identified by their aliases "Sabor" and "Diamond." The gunfight occurred on a soccer field in the San Jorge neighbourhood on Tuesday.

Right-wing opposition leads legislative elections

Preliminary results show that the right-wing opposition, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), is set to keep its supremacy in El Salvador's Legislative Assembly. According to the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE), the party has secured nine out of the 14 departmental capitals. So far, nearly 90 percent of the votes have been counted. Official results were delayed after a technical fault struck the vote counting system. As the results are being gradually released, they present a significant blow to President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is set to face increasing pressure during his last year in office.

Earthquakes recorded hours before polls open nationwide

A powerful 5.1-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Saturday evening off the coast of La Libertad. According to El Salvador's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the quake's epicentre was nearly 35 kilometres south of Playa El Trunco. No casualties were reported. The quake happened the day before millions were set to cast their votes in the country's legislative elections.

Legislative elections to take pace on 04 March

Millions of El Salvadorians are set to cast their votes in the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for Sunday. The main battleground will be between the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Voters will elect 84 Congress members, which will be key in the nomination of the country's Attorney General and Supreme Court. Main issues regard security and corruption, while some concerns are also about a collusion of criminal gangs in politics. Further, 260 municipalities will also elect their new leaders. 

EU monitor mission arrives in San Salvador

Nearly 30 members of an EU electoral monitoring mission have arrived in San Salvador ahead of the upcoming legislative elections. The mission will closely monitor the whole electoral process alongside 50 other international observers. Millions of El Salvadorians will cast their ballots on 04 March to choose new representatives in Congress and local governments.

Two officers injured in car bomb attack near San Salvador

Two municipal officers have been injured when a car bomb went off on the streets of Santa Tecla, San Salvador's metropolitan area. The incident happened on Sunday afternoon on the road heading to the southern port of La Libertad. Reports revealed that the vehicle was stolen nearly a week ago and went off just as municipal officers were inspecting it. Santa Tecla's mayor, Robert D'Aubuisson, said that the attack was aimed at police officers; however, further investigations have been launched.

Police officer killed in violent standoff in San Salvador

A police officer has been killed and eight others injured during an armed attack in San Salvador. According to reports, members of the subversive Barrio 18 gang attacked a police tactical unit that was searching for illegal weapons in San Patricio neighbourhood. Two assailants were also killed in the violent standoff, including a leader from a local faction of the gang. Barrio 18 is one of the most notorious gangs in Central America. It is often associated with extortion, drug-trafficking and targeted murders.

Supreme Court blocks bill to ban same-sex marriage in El Salvador

El Salvador's Supreme Constitutional Court has blocked the Legislative Assembly from ratifying a measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the country. Lawmakers sought to establish in the constitution that marriages in El Salvador should only be between two individuals born as a man and a woman. Further, homosexual couples would be banned from adopting a child. Judges said that the bill, which was previously approved back in April 2015, was engulfed in irregularities and adverse to public opinion.

Powerful 5.1-earthquake recorded near La Libertad

A powerful 5.1-magnitude earthquake was recorded off the southern El Salvadorian coast on Wednesday. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake had its epicentre near the port city of La Libertad at a depth of 79 kilometres. El Salvador's Environment and Natural Resources Ministry reported that no tsunami threat was issued. Preliminary reports revealed that the earthquake was felt across the capital, San Salvador, and the western coast while no initial damage or casualties took place.

Several killed in armed attack in Ahuachapan

At least six people have been killed and three others were injured when armed men raided a liquor establishment in Ahuachapan, western El Salvador. The incident happened on Sunday evening in the area of Alarcon in Antiquizaya. El Salvador's Attorney General's office revealed that a 25-year-old soldier is among the victims. Preliminary investigations suggest that the members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang are behind the attack, while it remains unclear if the incident is linked to retaliation.

Police officer killed during operation in Usulutan

A police officer has been killed when fierce shooting broke out during an operation in Usulutan, south-eastern El Salvador. Police sources informed that officers have been deployed to Santa Elena to arrest criminals in the area. One criminal was also shot dead during the operation. More than 40 police officers and 20 soldiers have been killed in El Salvador since the start of the year. Most of them were targeted by armed criminals while off-duty.

Civil war colonel extradited to face trial in Spain

Colonel Inocente Orlando Montana has been extradited to Spain to face trial for involvement in the killing of six Jesuit priests in the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. Col Montana, who was El Salvador's Deputy Minister of Public Security in 1989, is being accused of links to a deadly military elite squad that slaughtered the priests - most of them Spanish-born - and two others for their alleged links to the FMLN left-wing guerilla. UN records state that more than 75,000 people were killed in the country's civil war, which ended after a peace process was brokered in 1992.

State of emergency declared due to water shortages in Nejapa

El Salvador's Civil Protection authority has declared a state of emergency over drinking water shortages in villages in the central municipality of Nejapa. According to a statement released on Monday, since late-October, nine villages remain in critical condition after the region's water system collapsed. The three-month-long emergency sets the deadline for the local government to fix the water supply network as authorities fear further health complications amid the country's worsening water crisis.

Low-intensity earthquake series recorded in La Union

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) has reported that 77 low-intensity earthquakes have been reported between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning in La Union, south-eastern El Salvador. Most incidents were recorded around Conchagua and the Fonseca Gulf. MARN said that the causes of the quake series were due to a geological fault in the region. Authorities urged people to stay vigilant and only follow recommendations issued by the Civil Protection authority and other official government bodies.

Young woman found dead near San Salvador

A woman believed to be in her twenties has been found dead in Antiguo Cuscatlan, south of San Salvador. Preliminary reports revealed that the victim was found wearing fitness gear along the Luis Poma Boulevard, between Santa Elena and La Cima. The victim's identity is still unknown and the circumstances behind the incident remain unclear. According to the police, three women have already been killed around the same area in 2017. Further reports suggest that criminal groups widely operate along the four-kilometre road - a popular location for jogging and other outdoor activities. 

Civil Protection issues tidal waves warning

El Salvador's Civil Protection Authority warned of the risk of tidal waves that are expected to hit the country in the coming days. According to a statement released on Wednesday, strong winds and large waves are set to batter the El Salvadorian coast until Friday due to an off-season storm system. It recommended that beachgoers and surfers exercise extra caution while in coastal areas, while it also warned for the increased risk the storm poses to small boats and residential areas located near the beach.

Student killed in renewed attack on buses in Mejicanos

A 22-year-old student has been killed when armed criminals targeted a bus in Mejicanos, on the outskirts of San Salvador. Local media reported that the victim was killed on Tuesday morning in the Plan del Pito area. The incident happened on the bus that serves the 33B route from San Roque de Mejicanos to San Salvador's historical centre. Several incidents involving this specific route have been reported since September. Last week, a 20-year-old bus driver was also killed. Preliminary investigations suggest that members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang are behind the attacks, which came despite a recently launched campaign aimed to tackle criminality across the public transportation system and schools.

Police officer and his family killed in Santa Ana

A police officer and three of his family members have been found dead in Santa Ana, western El Salvador. Local media reported that Walter Guardado Alfaro was off-duty when criminals reportedly abducted and killed him on Tuesday evening. Reports suggest that Alfaro's body was found in the San Rafael area. Nearby, police officers recovered the body of his pregnant wife, nephew and four-year-old daughter. Alfaro and his family were attacked when travelling to Chalchuapa to meet with family members. It remains unclear which gang is behind the attack, but the area is known for the presence of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The incident came days after gang members killed a 21-year-old Air Force soldier in Sonsonate. The MS-13 had in recent months issued increasing death threats to security forces and their respective family members, while the government launched a crackdown on criminal gangs.

Tropical Storm Selma hits El Salvador

Widespread damage has been reported as Tropical Storm Selma made landfall in El Salvador. Falling trees blocked the El Litoral highway and landslides were also reported as heavy rain and strong winds battered the country over the weekend. Selma was promptly downgraded to a tropical depression and later dissipated moments after hitting Usulutan department in south-eastern El Salvador.

Weather warning issued as heavy rains hit El Salvador

Emergency services issued a warning for the potential overflow of the Rio Grande de San Miguel, south-eastern El Salvador, as heavy rains continuously hit the country throughout the week. It has been advised to remain alert and to closely monitor riverbed levels nationwide as severe weather conditions are expected to hit the country in the following days. Extra caution is advised in areas surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, where heavy downpours usually trigger flash floods. Further, adverse weather conditions are also likely to affect urban areas in the departments of Santa Ana, Sonsonate, La Libertad, San Salvador, San Miguel and La Union.

One killed as criminals open fire at a market in Lourdes, La Libertad

One person was killed and three others were severely injured when criminals raided a local market in La Libertad, central El Salvador. The incident happened on Tuesday when presumed members of the Barrio 18 gang opened fire at local traders on a street market in Lourdes. Police believe that the group is exhibiting an increasing presence in the area. Meanwhile, in Soyapango, over a dozen Barrio 18 criminals opened fire at police officers investigating a case in La Campanera area. No casualties were reported in the attack. Both the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) are heavily linked to extortion targeting local businesses and to attacks against security forces nationwide.

Government launch commission to locate missing civil war victims

The government has launched a commission intended to locate people who disappeared during the country's deadly civil war. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren - who is a former guerilla - has said that: “With this instrument, we reaffirm our deep commitment to pay off the historical debt to the victims of forced disappearances in the country". It is believed that more than 75,000 people were killed and more than 8,000 others went missing during the 12-year-long conflict between the guerrilla group Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) - also El Salvador's current ruling party - and the US-backed army.

Soldiers deployed across critical security points in San Salvador

Security measures across the capital San Salvador will be reinforced as part of new government policies aimed at tackling criminal groups nationwide. According to local media, additional police officers and soldiers will be deployed to 25 critical points across the capital - mainly popular areas around public transport terminals, schools, universities and public offices. Such areas are believed to be the main points of operation for groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18.

Criminals throw grenade at police station in Zaragoza, La Libertad

A police station in La Libertad, southern El Salvador, was targeted in a grenade attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Local media reported that criminals drove by the police station in western Zaragoza and fired an M-60 calibre device, which failed to explode. Salvadorean authorities are on alert as several threats and attacks targeting police stations have been reported nationwide in the last few months. Justice Minister Mauricio Ramirez Laverde confirmed the attack and believes that it came as retaliation for the government's new security measures targeting criminal groups.

Hundreds of MS-13 members detained in joint operation

More than 450 criminals, mostly members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), have been arrested in a massive police crackdown across El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Local authorities revealed that 14 MS-13 leaders were detained in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, while 262 were arrested in El Salvador and nearly 180 others across Guatemala. All suspects are accused of links to homicides, drug-trafficking, extortion and money-laundering. Northern Triangle countries, supported by the US, recently engaged in a fight to shut down MS-13 operations.

Mexican earthquake triggers tsunami warning for Central America

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Pacific coast of all Central American countries after a massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico late on Thursday. Residents have been urged to take caution and to closely monitor changes in maritime conditions as large waves are expected to hit the coast due to powerful aftershocks. Central America is highly prone to seismic activity, especially in the Mexican state of Chiapas due to the interaction of five different tectonic plates.

Attorney General faces death threats

El Salvador's Attorney General Douglas Melendez has reportedly received death threats after unknown individuals demanded his immediate resignation. Melendez said on Monday that he and his family were threatened by an undisclosed source in mid-August. He believes that the threats are due to his active role in the prosecution of ongoing drug-related and corruption cases. 

Several killed as bus drives into a cliff in Olocuilta, La Paz

At least seven people have been killed and 20 others were injured when a bus drove into a 30-metre-high cliff in La Paz, southern El Salvador. The accident happened along the Route 33A near Olocuilta on Saturday morning when excursionists were travelling from Mejicanos to San Marcelino. Local authorities believe the accident was caused due to excessive speed. So far in 2017, more than 600 people were killed in road accidents across El Salvador, mostly in the capital San Salvador, Santa Ana and La Libertad.

Hundreds of MS-13 members arrested in massive police crackdown

More than 440 members of the subversive Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang have been arrested in a massive two-day operation in eastern El Salvador. According to the General Attorney's office, the operations happened in two towns across Zacatecoluca. Most faction members were known for carrying out murders, extortion and kidnaps in La Paz's areas of San Juan Talpa and San Luis Talpa. The arrests came as the US Justice Secretary Jeff Sessions visited El Salvador to address issues regarding MS-13 operations.

Police officers to stage protest in San Salvador

Police officers are set to take to the streets on Friday morning to protest hampering violence levels targeted at security forces in El Salvador. Demonstrators endorsed by the Movimiento de Trabajadores de la Policia (MTP) will march from Parque Cuscatlan towards the Parliament to demand more protection for police officers. The demonstration was called after five police officers were recently killed in separate incidents nationwide.

Two officers killed in less than 24 hours across El Salvador

Two police officers were killed in separate incidents in less than 24 hours across El Salvador. In Soyapango, outskirts of San Salvador, the body of a 30-year-old officer was found inside three bags along the Oro highway on Tuesday evening. It is believed that a local criminal group is behind the assassination. A day later in La Union, eastern El Salvador, an off-duty officer was killed in Santa Rosa de Lima area, where four gang members were arrested after a police operation. Security forces are often attacked in El Salvador, usually when stationed in gang-controlled areas.

New anti-crime bill triggers press freedom concerns

Lawmakers have proposed a controversial bill, which critics fear will hinder the already deteriorating freedom of the press in El Salvador. The Law on the National System for the Prevention of Violence comes as part of a wider effort to tackle high levels of criminality in the country. In one of its causes, it states that the press "should contribute to the promotion of the prevention of violence, tolerance and the culture of peace (...) by seeking the ethical self-regulation of information and non-violent content". In 2014, press freedom in El Salvador was put in focus when President Salvador Sanchez Ceren accused the media of “campaign of psychological terror” against his government.

Flames engulf finance ministry building in San Salvador

At least one person was killed after a fire destroyed a finance ministry's building in San Salvador. Dozens of people were also affected and taken to the hospital due to inhalation of fumes and burn injuries. The death toll is feared to increase as some people are still severely hurt. Local media reported that the fire was triggered by an electrical malfunction in the building's air conditioning system. Workers' Syndicates demanded a meeting with the government to discuss the poor safety conditions in public buildings nationwide.

Court sentences teen rape victim to 30 years in prison

A 19-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated murder after having a stillbirth. Evelyn Beatriz was reportedly raped multiple times by her violent partner and was admitted to the hospital last year due to health complications. According to the Amnesty International, Beatriz was unaware of her pregnancy and failed to alert the authorities due to security fears. Beatriz is being accused of not seeking prenatal care and attempted abortion - El Salvador's legislation forbids abortion regardless of the circumstances. 

Police and gang members engage in violent shooting near San Salvador

Four criminals died and a police officer was injured when shooting broke out in Panchimalco, outskirts of San Salvador. Local media reported that a violent standoff took place when special police forces intercepted Barrio 18 gang members in an illegal camp. The move triggered a heavy police presence in the area to rescue a wounded police sergeant. So far in June, 310 people have been assassinated in El Salvador, most of them in gang-related incidents.

Three killed due to flooding in southern El Salvador

At least three people have been killed and hundreds have been affected after intense rains triggered floodings in southern El Salvador. Widespread damage has been reported after several rivers burst their banks, leading to an increased risk of further flooding and landslides. The civil protection authority warned residents near rivers to remain vigilant and leave their houses if necessary. An orange alert was issued to northern El Salvador's Chalatenango, while the rest of the country is under a yellow warning. Such conditions have been caused by a low-pressure system linked to a tropical front reported along the Central American Pacific coast.

Barrio 18 boss blamed on tourist death in Izalco, Sonsonate

Authorities revealed on Tuesday that a senior member of the Barrio 18 gang is responsible for the death of a young Salvadorian tourist last April in Izalco, Sonsonate department. Moris Alfredo Baires is blamed for the death of David Aquino, who was driving towards the coast when his car broke down in Huiscoyolate. Baires shot him dead when Aquino asked for assistance in nearby houses. Barrio 18 and the rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs are responsible for a number of violent deaths in gang-controlled areas nationwide.

Powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake reported off Acajutla coast

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake was recorded off the Salvadorean coast overnight on Thursday. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake had its epicentre nearly 79 km south-west of Acajutla. A powerful 5.3-magnitude aftershock was also recorded minutes later at the same area. No casualties or major damages were reported. El Salvador is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire - specifically near where the Caribbean and Cocos tectonic plates collide - an area prone to seismic activity. 

Student shot dead at a store in San Salvador

A 16-year-old student has been killed and a pregnant woman injured when criminals opened fire at a store in San Salvador. The crime happened on Thursday in 10 de Enero colony, where preliminary investigations suggest that the crime was not gang-related. Witnesses told local news that violence in the area is recurrent due to ongoing territorial disputes between Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 members. 

Earthquake series rocks San Salvador

Landslides and minor damage were caused by a series of earthquakes in San Salvador. The series of over a dozen quakes started on Sunday evening and lasted until Monday afternoon across the capital and the Pacific coast. One man was killed when landslides hit his vehicle on the Los Chorros motorway near Santa Tecla. Most of the epicentres were located in Antiguo Cuscatlan - with the latest in the series recorded as a 5.1-magnitude earthquake. 

Dozens arrested over links to ex-mayor criminal network

A group of 20 men who are part of the Barrio 18 gang have been arrested by the National Police on Wednesday. The men have been accused of seven homicides - including the killing of a police sergeant - and have allegedly been linked to the former mayor of Apopa, Elias Hernandez, in central El Salvador. Hernandez is suspected of ordering the death of councilman Rene Orellana - who was killed in June in Valle del Sol over political grievances.

Pregnant woman and partner shot dead in Apopa

Heavily armed men shot dead a couple on the streets of Apopa, central El Salvador. The 32-year-old man and his pregnant wife were approached by men in a pick up truck, who without apparent motives opened fire. Local authorities believe that they were targeted because they lived in a neighbourhood controlled by a rival criminal faction. The incident comes just days after a police officer was killed in Apopa's Tikal Norte area. 

Extraordinary security measures against gangs extended by one year

The government has approved the extension of 'extraordinary security measures' aimed to tackle criminal gangs in El Salvador. The act was initially established in April 2016 and is scheduled to last until April 2018. Rights groups accuse the government of violating Human Rights as most prisoners' rights remain suspended, while prisons are heavily populated with serious health concerns over poor sanitary conditions. The government claims that such measures significantly lowered the number of homicides compared with previous years.

Student abducted and killed in Sonsonate

An 18-year-old student has been shot dead after being abducted in Sonsonate department, western El Salvador. The incident happened in the Anal Abajo area of Nahuizalco on Thursday evening. According to the authorities, the body of the victim, a student, was found with stab and gunshot wounds. The police suggested that the attack was carried out by a local gang. 

Killings across El Salvador remain high despite government crackdown

The National Police (PNC) announced that 256 people have been killed across El Salvador in January. Most deaths were reported amid shootings between security forces and criminals or gang-related retaliations, especially in the area of Mejicanos, near San Salvador. Despite the rate of nearly eight murders a day, the death toll suffered a significant decrease compared with the same period in 2016. The decrease is believed to be connected to the government crackdown on criminality launched in March. 

Several killed along violent week of attacks in Mejicanos

At least four people have been killed amid a wave of violent attacks along the week in Mejicanos, outskirts of San Salvador. All of the victims - taxi drivers of the same cooperative - were gunned down amid presumed grievances with the outlawed Barrio 18 gang. Another incident in San Mauricio colony led to the death of one man, while another was injured. According to local media, a surge in violence targeting transportation workers, salesmen and other businesses has been haunting Mejicanos since October 2016.

Four soldiers feared dead in ambush near San Salvador

Four soldiers of the Salvadorean Air Force (FAS) were ambushed near San Salvador on Monday. Preliminary investigations revealed that the four soldiers were heading to the FAS air base when they mistakenly headed to Vista al Lago area in Ilopango, a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) stronghold. The police believe that the soldiers were ambushed by dozens of MS-13 members before being taken to an undisclosed location. Further investigations are being carried out by the police and FAS in order to assess the motives of their disappearance. 

Health concerns over open-air litter amid services' strike in Usulutan

Residents of the city of Santa Maria in Usulutan province, south-eastern El Salvador, have raised concerns over open-air garbage around the city amid a 72-hour strike carried out by garbage collectors. Santa Maria is the most affected area, however most of the Usulutan province has been affected since Monday. Environmental authorities have increased the potential attraction of bugs and other rodents in the areas by leaving garbage open to the air, triggering a health safety issue.

Earthquake shakes El Salvador's Pacific coast

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake has been recorded in the south-western El Salvador. The quake happened in the early hours of Saturday morning, nearly 30 km off the coast of La Zunganera beach in La Libertad. El Mundo has reported that the phenomenon was felt in San Salvador, Santa Ana, La Paz and several other areas across the country. In November 2016, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast triggered a tsunami alert in Puerto El Triunfo and the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. 

Major criminal groups show intentions to hold talks with government

Leaders of El Salvador's major gangs - Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 Sureños and Barrio 18 Revolucionarios - reportedly intend to hold talks with the government in order to engage in a demobilisation process. Reports issued by local El Salvadorian newspapers have revealed that the groups have proposed plans to reach an agreement in order to return to civil society. However, El Salvador's Minister of Justice and Public Safety told El País that 'there will be no dialog with criminals'. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, mostly caused by criminal gangs widely operating across the country.

Guatemala to reinforce border after prison break in Morazán

As at least 10 inmates have broken out from a prison in the Morazán department, eastern El Salvador, Guatemalan security forces have announced plans to reinforce its borders. The Guatemalan National Police stated that the whole border with El Salvador is being highly monitored in order to avoid the criminals fleeing towards Guatemala. Regional security cooperation between both countries often takes place in order to tackle criminality in bordering areas.

Six killed in separate incidents across El Salvador

On 12 December, the Republic's General Prosecutor (FGR) announced that six separate homicides were reported across the country. In Nahulingo, Sansonate department, a man was killed in the El Calvario neighbourhood, while another victim was found dead in the Oro highway in Ciudad Delgado. In Guadalupe canton, two people were killed on the main road of El Jiote region, with another double homicide happening in the nearby area of Mejicanos, close to the Nejapa Power Plant. In all cases the FGR did not disclose any details or additional information over the motives for the attacks. El Salvador records nearly 116 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest rates in the world.

Two bodies found inside vehicle in Cuscatlán

On the evening of 11 December, two people were found dead inside a pickup truck in the La Cruz Arriba area of San Pedro Perulapán, Cuscatlán, central El Salvador. The police are still investigating the identities of the victims and the potential motives for the attacks. San Pedro Perulapán, along with neighboring areas, report unusually high homicide rates compared with the already high national average, mostly caused by the surge in local criminal gangs.

Man shot dead on bus in San Salvador

On 5 December, a 20-year-old man was shot dead on a minibus in San Salvador. According to the authorities, the bus was travelling near the Plan del Pito area when two armed men approached the vehicle. The victim was taken to the local hospital where he later died of his wounds. The incident comes at the same time as seven people were reported dead in separate incidents across the country.

Student couple assassinated in San Salvador

On 5 December, two students were shot dead in Ayutuxtepeque, San Salvador. Both victims were on a motorcycle and heading to university when they were ambushed by armed men in Santa Simona colony. According to the authorities, the couple were shot dead by a rival gang operating in a neighbouring area. Witnesses told local news that the local population are often targeted as they pass through the some streets controlled by criminals.

Scores arrested amid police crackdown across El Salvador

On 8 November, more than 600 suspected gang members were arrested during a police crackdown on the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang in El Salvador. The announcement made by the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, praised the operation, named as Plan Nemesis. The operation was established on 8 November by the National Police (PNC) and the country's general attorney, in order to tackle MS-13 gang members carrying out attacks against security forces.

Communities lack tsunami alert mechanisms due to gang presence

The director of Civil Protection has stated that some communities in El Salvador are not provided with tsunami alerts and emergency arrangements due to the strong presence of criminal gangs. The emergency authority said that areas such as the El Espino, in the the south-eastern Usulutan region, are very vulnerable because the National Police (PNC) does not have a presence within the territory. The authorities acknowledged that the area is fully controlled by extortionists and presents high levels of violence. This makes it difficult for the PNC to engage with the population through prevention mechanisms. The announcement comes days after a tsunami alert was issued after a strong earthquake hit El Salvador's Pacific coast.

Government launches nationwide gang counter-offensive

In an attempt to retaliate against the dangerous criminal gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the government of El Salvador announced a new campaign, entitled 'Nemesis'. The announcement was made on 18 November by the country's Vice President, Oscar Ortiz. The focus of the operation is on countering the gang, following the consecutive targeted assassinations against police officers. One of the aims of the operation is to assist the victims of gang-related crimes and to improve the protection provided by security forces, through the purchase of adequate equipment. The MS-13 is a cross-border criminal organization that also widely operates in Honduras and Guatemala, and is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous gangs in Central America.

Strong earthquake reported off Pacific coast

A strong 7.2-magnitude earthquake was reported off the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and El Salvador on Thursday. The US Geological Survey reported that the quake took place nearly 75 miles off the El Salvador's coast at a depth of 20 miles. Despite its strength, no casualties were reported. The authorities issued a tsunami alert in the department of Usulután and ordered the preemptive evacuation of coastal areas of the country. The capital San Salvador was also rocked by the strong quake, which was followed by five aftershocks of 4.5-magnitude. The pacific coast of El Salvador is located on a highly seismic area ,where the Caribbean and Cocos tectonic plates collide.

Workers complain over extortion carried out by MS-13

Workers' from the public transportation sector are worried about a new seasonal extortion tax charged by criminal gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Some workers stated that MS-13 have been claiming additional protection charges ahead of Christmas. The move has happened in previous years and led to a series of strikes from public transport services. According to the workers' syndicate, the transportation services already pay over US$ 30 million yearly in extortion and protection rackets to criminal gangs across El Salvador.

Suspected MS-13 camp dismantled in Usulután

A suspected Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) camp has been dismantled during a patrol in the Usulután department, south-eastern El Salvador. Marines arrested two gang members and seized a considerable amount of marijuana. The camp was located in the El Espino area of the Jucuarán city, known to be controlled by the outlawed MS-13 gang. They have been withdrawing their operations to rural areas of the country following an increase in security operations. In June, another camp in the same area was discovered by security forces, with several weapons and a clandestine cemetery being discovered. Attempts to retake territory from criminal groups often results in intense firefights between the security forces and the gangs. 

Guards director assassinated in San Miguel

On 10 November, the director of the Municipal Guards Body (CAM) was assassinated in San Miguel, eastern El Salvador. José Atilio Villalta was shot dead near a bridge in Tangolona, Moncagua, when heading to work. Preliminary information revealed that his occupation as police officer is not related with the incident. Villalta owned a bar near his house that was allegedly frequented by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang. The authorities believe that either their costumers staged the attack, or the rival gang, the M-18, is responsible. The death of Villalta comes amid a recent wave of violent assassinations reported in the area.

Transnational task force to initiate counter-gangs operations

A transnational task force targeting organised crime is set to initiate its activities on Tuesday, 15 November. The agreement was signed on 23 August by the governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The joint force will comprise members of the national police, public ministry, intelligence agencies and the military. The move also plans to bring the US government on board in order to assist in the operations in the region. The three countries, known as the 'Northern Triangle', report one of the highest murder rates in the world and they are the ground of operations for several international organised crime groups.

Government raises concern over security forces safety

El Salvador's Vice President Oscar Ortiz has raised concerns about the security of police officers and soldiers. The announcement comes after a police officer and a soldier were killed on Tuesday. The officer, part of the national police force, was shot dead in the area of Santa Ana after being threatened by both the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs.  So far in 2016, 39 police officers and 19 soldiers have been killed in the country.

Mayor arrested over involvement with human trafficking network

On 31 October, the Mayor of San Miguel Tepezontes, central El Salvador, was arrested over his involvement with a human trafficking network. José Ludgerio Cruz Quintanilla was arrested at the city's council by the Central Investigations Division (DCI) of the National Civil Police of San Salvador. The allegations came after a victim contacted the authorities over an incident involving Quintanilla in November, 2014. According to the UN, over 20% of the total victims of human trafficking in the US are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Ex-President Saca arrested on allegations of fraud

On 30 October, ex-President Elias Antonio Saca was arrested on charges of embezzling millions of dollars of public funds. Six former officials in his government have also been arrested. 

Courts sentence two gang members for murder of eleven people

On 25 October, courts in El Salvador sentenced two young gang members, nicknamed "Danger" and "Restless", to 15 and 5 years respectively in a youth correctional facility. The pair were sentenced for the killing of eight electrical workers and three farmers in an attack that caused national outrage and forced the government to crack down on gang activity across the country. 

Over 300 people arrested in major police operation in Usulutan

Over 300 criminals have been arrested as part of "Operation 'Tiburón,'" led by the regional branch of the National Prosecution office (FGR). The operation took place on Wednesday night across several districts of the Usulutan department, in the south-eastern part of the country. A police statement revealed that the gang members are part of the criminal group '18 Revolucionários'. The operation came as part of an ongoing investigation over 47 murders and 27 extortion and kidnappings cases connected to the gang. 

Former attorney general detained on corruption charges

El Salvador's former attorney general, Luis Martinez, has been detained over corruption allegations.  Martinez voluntarily submitted to the public prosecutors office where he was charged with cover up, procedural fraud and failure to properly investigate the case of businessman Enrique Rais.  Martinez told reporters his capture was "unjust, unheard, but we will move forward."

FMLN mayor shot dead in El Salvador

The mayor of Tepetitan was shot dead by suspected gang members over the weekend.  Guillermo Mejia, a member of the ruling FMLN party, was targeted at his home on Saturday before being transferred to the Santa Gertrudis Hospital in San Vicente, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Mejia is the second FMLN party member killed in the last two weeks, while in 2016 an average of 18 people have been killed in gang violence in El Salvador.

Four criminals killed in shootout in Cabanas

Four suspected criminals have been killed by security forces in the Cabañas department of El Salvador. The incident happened after agents of the National Civil Police (PNC) followed a tip-off that suspects were hiding in a house in Ilobasco.  As officers approached the building they came under fire, leading to a gunbattle. Security forces also recovered several weapons from the scene.

Four arrested and three killed during police operation in San Salvador

One of the most wanted criminals of El Salvador has been arrested by the National Police (PNC) in Ciudad Delgado on the outskirts of San Salvador. Gerson Sandoval, known as 'Scliperm kick', was arrested along with three others during a major police operation. Three suspects were also killed during clashes with the police. The operation comes as part of major efforts by the Salvadorian government to deal with organized crime in the country.

Government creates new armed unit to tackle gang violence

The government of El Salvador has created a new 1,000-strong armed unit to tackle gang violence across the country.  The new force, which is made up of police officers and soldiers, will concentrate on the leaders of the rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 (18th Street) gangs.  Vice-President Oscar Ortiz said: "The moment has come to stop the scale of violence which has imposed itself in the last few years on our country and which has created so much blood and sacrifice."

Eight dead in gang clashes in El Salvador

Eight suspected gang members have been killed in clashes in south-eastern and central El Salvador.  The Attorney General's Office said four members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang were stabbed to death at a bar in El Cuco beach in the San Miguel department.  Four other gang members died in an exchange of fire with the National Civil Police in the central Cuscatlán province.

Seven prisons in state of emergency

A state of emergency has been declared in seven prisons in El Salvador due to escalating gang violence.  The inmates will remain in lockdown, while no visitors will be allowed to enter the prisons for the next 15 days.  Around 300 suspected members of the Quezaltepeque gang have also been moved to different facilities.

MS-13 kidnapped and killed 11 workers in San Salvador

The criminal group Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) kidnapped and killed 11 workers in the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador, on Thursday. Eight of the victims were workers of an electrical company and were targeted while carrying out maintenance work in San Juan Opico.  The authorities are working to determine the motivation behind the assassinations, although it may be linked to an extortion racket. The MS-13 and Barrio 18 are the main gangs in the area, and a failed truce in 2012 led to a 70 percent increase in homicides between 2014 and 2015.

Five dead in clashes between police and gunmen in Zaragoza

Five suspected gang members have been killed in clashes with police in the city of Zaragoza in the La Libertad department.  According to local reports the fighting was sparked with gunmen tried to ambush a police patrol in the La Fuente area.  One police officer was wounded in the clashes.

Three killed in La Paz shootout

Three gang members have been killed in a shootout with members of the National Police Civil (PNC) in the La Paz department of El Salvador.  The incident occurred in the town of Santiago Nonualco and is the fifth reported shooting involving gang members in just over a week.  According to official figures released in August there have been 3,840 homicides recorded so far this year. 

Prison violence kills 14 gang members

At least 14 members of the Barrio 18 gang have been killed in a prison in Quezaltepeque. Officials said the bodies were discovered in two separate locations during a routine inspection of the prison, and the deaths are believed to be part of an internal feud. The prison authorities and police have launched an investigation. 

Six killed in gang violence near San Salvador

On August 13, two gangsters were killed in a firefight with the police in the Tula de San José Villanueva area of the La Libertad department. On August 12, gang members killed a bus driver and a passenger on the 140 bus line in Ilopango neighbourhood, and two brothers were murdered in San Juan Nonualco municipality in La Paz department.

Security forces now guarding El Salvador buses

Military and police escorts are being placed on buses across El Salvador in the wake of a series of murders. At least seven bus drivers have been killed this week after to refusing to obey orders from criminal gangs to go on strike. 

Fifteen homicides registered in one day

On July 29, 2015, 15 homicides were registered from different locations across the country. A bus driver was assassinated on Route 16. Two criminals were killed by a rival gang in Apopa, San Salvador department. A female bread vendor was murdered in the Las Marias sector of Nejapa, San Salvador. In La Union, San Alejo, the dismembered body of a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang was found. Six other homicides were reported in San Pedro Perulapán, Cusatlán department, Concepción Batres, Usulután department, Ayutuxtepeque, San Salvador department, Sacacoyo, La Libertad department and two in La Paz department.

Record number of homicides in June

Last month El Salvador recorded the highest number of homicides since the end of the country's civil war in 1992.  Miguel Fortin Magana, the Director of El Salvador's Institute of Forensic Medicine, said there were 677 murders during June, up from 641 in May.  According to the official figures the first six months of 2015 has seen a 61 percent rise from the same period last year.

Alert level raised over tropical storm

A tropical storm forming in the Pacific Ocean is expected to cause high waves and possible damage to infrastructure.  The Salvadoran Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has declared an Orange Alert for Wednesday 13 May (Travel advisory from UK FCO).

Gangs agree truce in El Salvador

The leaders of El Salvador's main street gangs have agreed a truce in an attempt to reduce violence in the country.  The MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs previously agreed a ceasefire in 2012 but this has fallen apart over the last year, leading to increased homicide rates.  Last week Vice President Oscar Ortiz said police should respond with force "without any fear of suffering consequences" if threatened by gang members.

Powerful earthquake hits El Salvador

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake has struck off El Salvador's pacific coast, killing at least one person and causing damage to several buildings.  According to the US Geological Survey the quake's epicentre was 170km from the capital, San Salvador.  Tremors were reported in neighbouring Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Former left-wing rebel wins election run-off

Former left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren from the National Liberation Front (FMLN) party has been elected president following a close run-off election.  The opposition candidate, Norman Quijano, and his Nationalist Republic Alliance (Arena) party claimed widespread fraud and have vowed to appeal the result.

Six church members murdered in El Salvador

Six members of a rural church have been killed in western El Salvador by suspected gang members.  The federal prosecutor's office said that victims were found with multiple bullet wounds at the church in Ahuachapan state, near the border with Guatemala.

Thousands flee as Chaparrastique volcano erupts

El Salvador's Chaparrastique has erupted for the first time in 37 years, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.  President Mauricio Funes said that no injuries have been reported but urged all local residents to head to temporary shelters in the San Miguel province.

El Salvador Data Sheet

Population:
6.1 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+503
International dialing prefix:
00
Emergency services:
911
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
115V
Climate:
Tropical
Ohter Major Cities:
Santa Ana, San Miguel, Soyapango, Mejicanos, Santa Tecla
Borders:
Honduras, Guatemala