The poor Central American nation of El Salvador has earned praise for its swift clampdown on Covid-19. Even before the country recorded its first case, President Nayib Bukele imposed a lockdown, announced an economic relief plan, and restricted the entry of virtually all foreign citizens. The country has administered 3,300 tests for every 1 million citizens, which is nearly double the testing rate in Brazil. And while many nations have seen their infections and deaths rise, El Salvador has only 345 recorded coronavirus infections and a mere eight deaths.
However, while Mr. Bukele has capitalized on his successful Covid-19 strategy to earn stratospheric approval ratings of 91 percent, he has also used it as a cover for ramping up his government’s violent anti-gang policies and authoritarian politics.