New Security Plan Focuses on Prevention and Job Creation
On January 16th, 2015, El Salvador’s president Salvador Sánchez Cerén received a comprehensive security proposal from the National Council on Citizen Security and Coexistence, a cross-sector advisory group convened by the president and facilitated by the United Nations to build national consensus around strategies for addressing the country’s high violence rates. The plan contains concrete projects that constitute one of the biggest domestic security investment in Salvadoran history at $2.1 billion dollars over five years, with 74% of the funds going towards programs in violence prevention and job creation – a major shift from the repressive, mano dura (iron fist) policies of previous right-wing administrations.
Violence prevention work will include projects to improve public spaces, create jobs, and increase the presence of public services in the 50 most violent municipalities. $500 million will be invested to generate 250,000 jobs for young people, with a minimum of 30% for young women. Another project will provide scholarships and extra-curricular programs to increase retention rates in public schools.
In addition to violence prevention and job creation programs, the plan allots resources to improve investigation and prosecution of crimes by promoting better inter-institutional coordination between the police and Attorney General’s office. Other projects will improve and expand prison facilities to create better conditions for rehabilitation programs and dismantle criminal structures that function out of the prisons and provide more services and attention to victims of crimes, including training hospital personnel in attending to victims of sexual violence and establishing protection programs for people that denounce crimes and human rights violations. The plan also proposes training journalists and editors to ensure the media promotes values of peace and harmonious coexistence and coordinating public campaigns with the media to promote these values.
The new citizen security plan, known as Plan El Salvador Seguro (Plan for a Safe El Salvador), reflects the commitment of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) administration to resolve the high levels of violence in the country by addressing the structural issues of inequality and social exclusion that cause violence. Funding for the plan will come from State institutions, international aid, loans, and private donations.
By Marvin Centeno, CISPES intern in Washington DC