Taking Exception to States of Exception

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The Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have long faced challenges from gangs which have become entrenched criminal networks. In response, governments throughout the region have periodically adopted hardline, or mano dura, security policies to clamp down on gangs. Most recently, El Salvador has seen one of the most extreme versions of such a policy under President Nayib Bukele, using a state of emergency to curtail constitutional protections, jailing upwards of sixty thousand alleged gang members, and serving as a backdrop for his consolidation of power and attacks on civil society and the press.

In this episode, Christopher Hernandez-Roy sits down with Steven Dudley, Co-Director of InSight Crime and author of the award-winning book MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang. Together, they unpack the nature of El Salvador's state of exception, what differentiates it from past hardline policies, and the threat this "Plan Bukele" poses to El Salvador and to democracies throughout the region. They also delve into the impact of both gang violence and counter-gang repression on Salvadoran citizens, and what can be done to promote lasting security in Central America.