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Democracy and Governance

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El Salvador has made significant democratic advances, including successive free and fair elections, accompanied by social and economic progress.  Despite these gains, insecurity from gang-related violence and lack of economic opportunity drive thousands of Salvadorans to attempt to illegally immigrate to the United States.

The Government of El Salvador is taking measures to address the problem through a security plan that includes social services, education and economic opportunities in targeted high-crime municipalities. The security plan demonstrates the Salvadoran government’s commitment to advance prosperity, security, and governance to reduce illegal immigration. In alignment with the U.S. Government foreign policy priorities, USAID programs enhance prosperity, security and governance in El Salvador so that Salvadorans can build a better life at home.


USAID is confronting the underlying causes of violence to make communities safer and provide youth with alternatives to gangs and illegal immigration.

USAID targets high crime cities, where people are more likely to attempt to illegally immigrate, with programs that integrate law enforcement with community-level crime and violence prevention.  Activities help create vibrant, prosperous neighborhoods by reclaiming and revitalizing public spaces, improving municipal services, increasing educational and job opportunities, and reintegrating returned migrants to prevent repeat migration attempts. A network of youth centers provides 40,000 marginalized youth alternatives to gangs and illegal immigration through music and art classes, sports, counseling and job training. USAID supports the work of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide specialized services to returned migrants to prevent re-migration.

In addition, USAID supports the integration of law enforcement efforts with community-level prevention programs; and provides training and support to the Judiciary, Attorney General’s Office, the National Civil Police, and the Public Defender’s Office for an effective and independent justice system to protect human rights, reduce impunity, and build citizen trust.

USAID fiscal policy programs help the Salvadoran government increase revenues by improving the efficiency of tax collection and by strengthening and professionalizing tax collection authorities. 

Together, these activities are helping to reduce crime and violence, a major cause of illegal immigration. Between 2015 and 2018, El Salvador homicides dropped an average of 53 percent in the 50 municipalities under the Salvadoran government’s security plan. Several municipalities with active USAID programs saw even higher declines. For example, in the municipality of Zacatecoluca, homicides dropped by over 66 percent from 2015 to 2017.  

USAID assistance:

  • Supports national and municipal government crime prevention initiatives in high-crime, high out-migration communities
  • Provides  alternatives for vulnerable youth 
  • Reclaims and revitalizes public spaces such as parks and sports fields to create safe, prosperous neighborhoods
  • Helps professionalize justice sector institutions and improve criminal justice practices, procedures and delivery to make them more effective in combating crime and insecurity
  • Improves the public trust in government by strengthening justice sector programs to reduce impunity, promote transparency, enhance judicial reform and increase citizen participation and oversight
  • Increases government revenues for social investments through improved tax administration and greater transparency
  • Decreases re-migration from El Salvador by improving the Salvadoran government's management of and services for returned migrants


Civil Society and Democracy in the Eastern Region

Imagina Parque Cuscatlan

Juvenile Justice System Strengthening

Protection and Quality of Care for Children

Rights and Dignity

USAID Crime and Violence Protection

USAID Domestic Resource Mobilization Project

USAID Government Integrity

USAID Justice Sector Strengthening

USAID Municipal Governance Project