Anarchy vs. Tyranny vs Rule of Law: El Salvador

Understanding what happened in El Salvador over the last two decades and then the last few years is crucial to understanding the future of the Americas.

Here is by far the best summary available (because presenter carefully seeks to confound shallow, habitual, glib, or self-righteious POVs that dominate all the other significant coverage I have seen).

I happen to live on the main escape route of terrified children out of El Salvador headed to El Norte, and I encountered (at a safe distance) one murderous gang member who had been sent in pursuit of escapees from his town.

As much as I find Putin horrific, the more urgent question the civilized world faces is how to avoid anarchy without falling into tyranny. Some may want to review their Aristotle (the Politics) and Hobbes (Leviathan).

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Except for the intensity not much different than many other LatAm countries over the years. When I arrived in Venezuela in 1946 there were elections but soon there was a coup and a triumvirate took over. One of the members bumped off the leading member and became the dictator for the next decade or so. Venezuelas were lucky because this was a patriotic and benevolent dictator. Only opposition politician and criminals has to fear. The politician were mostly exiled while the criminals were either shot or locked up. People were safe to walk the streets. After he was deposed people realized how good it had been.

I recall a conversation in a collective taxi. “My home was robbed, I reported the theft to the Seguridad Nacional [the much feared security police], and forgot about it, figuring nothing would come from it. Some time later there was a knock on the door, it was the Seguridad Nacional and I practically soiled my pants. But there not after me, they had caught the thief! Those were the good times.”

Then democracy was reestablished. The courts passed human rights laws. After the police arrested criminals, they were released using these laws. In frustration the police started shooting criminals. Ordinary people didn’t mind. It was only after the economic collapse created by socialist economics and corruption that Chavez got elected and the country went back to military dictatorship this time backed by Cuban Communists. LatAm countries go through these cycles – often with the heavy hand of our northern neighbour.

The Captain


good watch/listen! Quite the balancing act, a war on gangs at the expense of civil rights. But the population didn’t really have any civil rights, as gangs looted and pillaged them. But what happens in the future, does the popular dictator turn the screws on any of the population who disagrees with him ? Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. But if I was an El Salvadoran, I’d be thrilled with the current situation of gangs in hard retreat.



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The Captain

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I was in El Salvador for a short time back in 2011. Not quite as dangerous as 2015, but we were there shortly after the bus incident and gang imposed curfew.

Fearing for your life each and every day vs. dictator abusing power and incarcerating innocents…not that difficult of a decision for most people. People will always choose the latter.

Unless you are one of the innocents tossed in prison with no legal due process and tortured.


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YOU might be surprised. The concept of human individuality varies widely in different corners of the globe. I could easily see an individual praising the situation for family and community while simultaneously accepting the current state of their individual circumstance as part of the equation.


Latin America has smaller problems than the Middle East and North Eastern Africa with five wars and famines.

The simplest point is freedom.

The lack of trust in the US and EU make for power sharing. Unless factions give to each other peacefully there is nothing.

El Salvador is gaining very little. Societies need to play for tomorrow. Bukele will be the murderer.

Putin and order?

May 15 News Week

Moscow’s forces have sustained a total of 486,940 casualties since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to figures published by the Ukrainian military on Wednesday. Russia also lost 48 armored fighting vehicles, 14 tanks and almost 50 other assorted vehicles in the previous 24 hours, the General Staff said in an update.

Note the press reported Russia’s offensive prowess last week. Seems the Russians are fools.

As a general rule, a people either chooses bad leaders or chooses to not remove bad leaders. There is rarely another scenario. That’s because when an external force arrives to remove a bad leader, too many of the people rally around the bad leader because they trust their bad leader over anyone external.