61% of Salvadorans are Afraid to Express Their Opinions

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Salvadorans are satisfied with the country’s democracy, but fear that they may face negative consequences if they issue their views on the country’s problems. This follows from the results of the 2023 opinion study carried out by Latinobarometer, a corporation of Chilean origin, which investigates the development of democracy, economy and society.

In the results of the opinion study “Latinbarómetro Report 2023: The Democratic Recession of Latin America,” the corporation presents data after conducting opinion polls in 17 countries of the region, including El Salvador.

“The recession is expressed in the low support of democracy, the increase of indifference to the type of regime, the preference and attitudes in favor of authoritarianism, the collapse of the performance of governments and the image of political parties. Democracy in several countries is in critical condition, while others no longer have democracy,” says Latinobarometer in its report.

What shows is that the current country context generates this fear, that citizens do not ot, that it refrains from commenting on national reality, even in private circles.
Eduardo Escobar, Citizen Action.

El Salvador

El Salvador has a special section in the report, in terms of the country balance sheet. It indicates that democracy has the support of 46 per cent of the population, without differences from 2020; but stresses that the people for whom the type of government regime is indifferent has increased slightly, from 24 per cent to 26 per cent.

Latinobarometer addresses Nayib Bukele’s re-election attempt amid a constitutional ban and analyzes: “The Bukele effect is not making democracy in that country more robust, but rather that it makes the president more powerful.”

“Democracy is in high danger in El Salvador not only because of its repostulation, but because it does not constitute an institutionalization of democracy. On the contrary, it is the warlord who takes all power for himself and the country risks becoming an elected-autocracy/ dictatorship/ authoritarian regime/authoritarian populism,” he adds.

Then, despite the satisfaction that Salvadorans say they have with the country’s democracy, Latinobarómemeter addressed questions related to how free the population feels to express their ideas and opinions about the problems they face in the country.

The result: out of every 100 people, 61 consider that if they express their views publicly, they could face negative consequences. The percentage is the same as in the latest poll presented by Latinobarómetro in 2020.

Another question reveals that there is an increase in the number of people who have chosen not to express their opinion on El Salvador’s problems.

In 2020, out of every 100 people surveyed, 52 replied that they did not usually express their views on the country’s problems. By 2023, that figure rose to 65.

In line with the above, there are also increases in the percentage of people who admitted that they almost never talk about politics with their friends.

In the 2020 survey, out of every 100 people, 34 responded that “almost never” they talked about politics with friends. That figure rose to 41 in the 2023 survey.

All of the above was analyzed by Eduardo Escobar, director of Acción Ciudadana, who interprets it as a manifestation that the population may be satisfied with the work, but that does not imply agreeing on everything that the government does.

‘There’s majority support, but it’s not all the people. And this tends to be noticed on some particular issues: people say they agree with the emergency regime, but when asked if they agree that innocents are captured it says no,” he exemplified.

Meanwhile, Ingrid Escobar, of Legal Relief, considered that the figures confirm details that the organization has observed with the implementation of the emergency regime, such as the fear of being denounced and attacked.

“The regime also affects people who have not been directly impacted by the capture of a relative or friend, but who have also affected it because it thinks: Better I don’t say anything, it’s not going to be that to say something, it’s up to me the turn, taking into account that this government doesn’t care about the level of the person speaking,” he questioned.

Is there fear in the population. The regime has brought silence so that rights cannot be expressed. We’re getting to a stage where we can’t say what we feel.
Francisco Lira, deputy of ARENA.

“People directly tell us not to take their faces out, they arrive with mask. Not a family has agreed to talk about their face coming out. They’re afraid, a terror. They want to do things, but they’re afraid of it,” he added.

In addition to those mentioned above, this media yesterday sought out official and related deputies to have opinions on the results; however, until the closure of this note there were no answers to the requests for consultation.

Latin barómetro

As the Latinobarometer Corporation presents itself on its website: Latinbarómetro is a public opinion study that annually applies about 20,000 interviews in 18 Latin American countries representing more than 600 million inhabitants. CL is a non-profit NGO.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa Grafica