Salvadoran President Rules Out Militarization of Public Safety

By Dialogo
February 03, 2012

On February 1, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes ruled out a militarization of public safety in the country, rejecting criticism of his appointment of two retired generals to head the sector’s leading institutions.

“The police will continue to be a hierarchically organized corps, but under the responsibility of a civilian authority. The police are not in the process of militarization (…) they’re in a process of professionalization and adaptation to new circumstances,” the president stated.

“We should leave prejudices aside, leave that sterile debate aside,” the president added, speaking at a National Civil Police (PNC) event.

In late January, Funes named retired General Francisco Salinas as director of the PNC, and in November, he named retired General David Munguía as minister of justice and public safety.

According to the president, those appointments are part of “a conceptual change” in how the country will work against crime, organized crime, and especially gangs.

“The state’s repressive apparatus and its institutions of prevention, investigation, and administration of justice should be strengthened, modernized, and provided with budgets and tools that can enable them to act effectively,” Funes pointed out.

About his decision, President Funes said, “We’re confronting organized groups, with sophisticated systems of information and intelligence, with enormous economic power, and supplied with the most modern weapons,” he indicated.

“In addition, they’re powerful gangs capable of corrupting state institutions. The conditions, then, are different; the enemy is also different, has mutated, has evolved,” he added.