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Unpacking Democracy: El Salvador, Crime, and Democracy

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has become a prominent and controversial political figure in Latin America. His government’s harsh but largely successful efforts to eradicate the criminal gangs that had terrorized the country for decades have attracted considerable attention in the region and beyond. While immensely popular at home, the “war” against the gangs has come at the cost of dismantling democratic institutions in El Salvador, which had emerged following a bloody civil war costing 100 000 lives.

Drawing on the Salvadoran experience, this webinar discusses the implications for democracy following President Bukele’s anti-gang strategy, the impact of high crime rates on democratic institutions and values, and the meaning of the social contract in highly violent societies. The webinar will elaborate on the lessons learned from El Salvador and its applicability elsewhere.

Introductory remarks

  • Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General, International IDEA


  • Carlos Dada, Journalist and Director, El Faro
  • Laura Chinchilla, Former President of Costa Rica, Vice Chair of the Board of Advisers, International IDEA
  • Laurence Whitehead, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University



For further questions, please contact Nazifa Alizada,

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Individuals noted on any UN sanctions list (United Nations Security Council Consolidated List) or European Union sanctions list are not allowed to participate in any International IDEA events.