Effectiveness and Internal Security. A Comparative Analysis of El Salvador and Nicaragua
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Nicaragua and El Salvador share many commonalities, including geographical vulnerabilities, widespread poverty, the experience of civil conflict in the 1980s, and a transition to democracy in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, each state has drastically divergent levels of violence, as measured particularly by homicide rates, with Nicaragua among the lowest in Latin America and El Salvador among the highest in the world. This paper assesses the historical and institutional variables that account for this divergence and evaluates each state’s security structures using a civil-military relations analysis. In particular, the author uses Bruneau and Matei’s criterion of effectiveness. The findings demonstrate that Nicaragua’s security forces consolidated during the 1980s in a manner more capable of sustaining the democratic transition and confronting new security threats like gangs and organized crime.
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