El Salvador. According to countryaah, the current population of El Salvador is 6,486,216. Former President Antonio Saca (2004-09) was arrested on October 30 on his way home from his son’s wedding, accused of embezzling public funds. It was the first time in the country’s history that a head of state was in danger of being tried, although both Francisco Flores (president 1999-2004) and Maurício Funes (2009-14) have been subject to investigation. However, the charges against Saca were far more serious. Prosecutor Douglas Meléndez claimed that Saca, under cover, arranged payments totaling $ 246 million to private accounts belonging to close associates to him. Saca’s assets, including nine private bank accounts, were already frozen in March, and the investigation against him had been ongoing since WikiLeaks published a telegram from the United States:
President Salvador Sánchez Cerén’s fight against organized crime in the form of youth gangs (“maras”) continued throughout the year and intensified following the murders of eleven people in the city of San Juan Opico on March 3. The murder rate reached 23 per day during the first two months of the year, a higher death rate than during the civil war in the 1980s. A few weeks later, Sánchez announced new measures, including state of emergency in the provinces where the margins are strongest, increased police and military presence on the country’s streets, and a prison reform. The government claimed that these measures led to fewer murders as early as April, while critics pointed out that it was rather the gang itself that advertised a ceasefire.
According to thereligionfaqs, Sánchez sought congressional support for his proposed action by the opposition party Arena (Republican National Alliance), which did not, however, appear to be a reliable partner in that effort. In March, the El Faro magazine published a video from February 2014 showing how a congressman for Arena negotiates with representatives of the Mara gang MS13 and Barrio 18 on services in exchange for the gang supporting the party’s election work. The video was most embarrassing for Arena, whose double standards in security issues have long been notorious.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of SLV stands for the nation of El Salvador in geography.
Population, society and rights
The majority of the Salvadoran population (90%) is mestizo, while 9% is of Caucasian origin. The country has known and still experiences a high rate of emigration, which has the United States as its preferred destination, where more than two million Salvadorans live. This phenomenon was accelerated by the two earthquakes of 13 January and 13 February 2001. The level of literacy of the population is low and this, together with the high level of corruption, decreases the effectiveness of public administration and political institutions. The most serious problem, which has plagued El Salvador since the end of the civil war, remains the high rate of criminal violence – a phenomenon largely aggravated by the burden of the maras , the local criminal gangs -, linked both to the number of murders (among the highest in the world), and to robberies and extortions. The country has not equipped itself with an adequate apparatus to do justice to the many people who have suffered human rights violations during the civil war, nor with courts capable of condemning the administrations of the past that have committed corruption. For fear of greater social polarization, political parties and the military prefer not to reopen the wounds of the past.
Economy and energy
El Salvador, traditionally a large producer of coffee, has slowly converted its economy to offer commercial and financial services over the past three decades. Although it is the smallest country in Central America, it has the third largest economy in the region. With the global recession of 2009, real GDP contracted by 3% and in the last two years the growth rate has never exceeded 2%. The amount of remittances from abroad remains relevant(mainly from the United States) which in 2012 reached a value equivalent to 17% of the national GDP and which contribute to smoothing out the large balance of payments deficit, deriving from a chronic dependence on imports. Trade relations with Asia and the European Union are on the rise; an important free trade agreement was signed with the European Union in June 2012. El Salvador has chosen a liberal economic model and in 2001 adopted the US dollar as its official currency to put a stop to inflation. The country is home to the Central American Integration System (SiCa, Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana) and was the first in Latin America to ratify the free trade agreement with the United States (CafTa, now CafTa-DR) in 2006 . Once he came to the presidency in June 2014 after his electoral victory, Salvador Sánchez Cerén maintained the liberal approach of his predecessor unchanged, at the same time developing an economic plan that is more in solidarity with the declared objectives of increasing social spending on health and education, to reduce poverty and unemployment and to wage a decisive battle against drug trafficking. A heavy legacy of the new executive is represented by the public deficit which reached 4% of GDP in 2014, up by almost one percentage point compared to the previous year. The new government to try to reduce the tax gap and to continue to finance social spending has opted for an increase in taxation, thus fulfilling one of the commitments entered into with the International Monetary Fund for access to the loan. In order to encourage private investments in infrastructure and solve some financial problems, in 2013 the government also passed a law on public-private partnerships.
El Salvador does not have any significant energy, hydrocarbon or coal reserves. For this reason it does not consume gas or coal, and imports oil. The need not to depend excessively on abroad has led him to diversify his renewable energy production: in 2010 he was the largest user of geothermal energy in Central America, and the first in the world if we consider the share of national electricity produced through geothermal (26%).