The media are among the victims of the widespread violence in El Salvador. Since taking office as president in June 2019, Nayib Bukele has attacked and threatened journalists critical of his government.
The Salvadoran media landscape is varied. There is a combination of media considered traditional (mainly print: El Diario de Hoy, La Prensa Grafica, El Mundo), television news and radio broadcasts. Several digital newspapers have emerged in recent years, many of these committed to investigative journalism. The Internet has favored the emergence of journalists using platforms such as YouTube to assess the government’s actions. The government manages a newspaper called El Salvador with public funds, which carries out official propaganda and attacks the opposition.
The constant pressure from the opposition has led the government to include media outlets that carry out audit journalism in their constant practices to discredit all critics. President Nayib Bukele is exerting particularly strong pressure on journalists and is using the extremely dangerous tactic of portraying the media as the enemy of the people. In May 2021, together with allied parties, President Nayib Bukele's party, who holds the majority in the Legislative Assembly, removed magistrates from the Constitutional Chamber and the attorney general without following the constitutional process.
The Constitution allows freedom of expression. However, the government has declared all information related to the pandemic confidential. In addition, by executive decree, the government has neutralized the entity that guarantees compliance with the Law on Access to Public Information. The procedures were not respected and the possibility of contesting the candidates for commissioners, from whom the president chooses a principal and an alternate, was eliminated.
Due to the dominant anti-press discourse, journalists face attacks on social networks and in some cases threats against their integrity and facilities. The majority of journalists who have been attacked are women.
There are no journalists murdered in El Salvador, but police officers have attacked some while covering different events, with no legal reason, and journalists also face sanctions. The Citizen Lab has confirmed that 35 people, including journalists and some members of civil society organizations, had their cell phones tapped repeatedly using Pegasus, the infamous sophisticated spyware, between June 2020 and November 2021