Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Committee Chair(s)

Robert Ross


Robert Ross


John Pascarella


Jeannie Johnson


For most of the three decades that have presided over the Salvadoran Civil War, El Salvador has been a state tormented by high levels of crime, especially the country's homicide rate, a product of the strong presence of criminal organizations such as MS-13 and 18th Street Gang. The current president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who took office in 2019, has declared war on gangs under a state of emergency where the human rights of suspected criminals are violated, particularly their due process guarantees. This has caused Bukele’s government to draw strong condemnation and criticism from foreign governments and human rights organizations. This thesis argues that the actions of the current Salvadoran government, and the high levels of acceptance by the population, can be understood under a historical, political, and social synthesis in the Salvadoran post-Civil War era.

Similarly, John Locke’s theory of executive prerogative and the right to life are used in this thesis to understand the current attributions that the executive branch has taken in El Salvador to decrease homicide rates and to understand the role of the president in protecting the rights of civilians when other government institutions are incapable of protecting such right.