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Document Type

Feature Article

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2009

Publication Title

Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD 4(2)


Peer Editor: Daniel Woznica; Faculty Mentor: Bret Gustafson

El Salvador passed the Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism in August, 2006, and the legislation was subsequently used on several occasions in the following year to charge individuals, ranging from street vendors to municipal employees to activists, with terrorism. This research examines the specific conditions that contributed to the writing and passage of the law in El Salvador and the effects that its application has had on due process and human rights. This research reveals that (1) the discourse of terrorism was well-established in El Salvador prior to the passage of the law, and that this discourse in reality enabled the passage of the law in El Salvador; (2) that the law was a means of acquiring the tacit support of the U.S. by joining the Global War on Terrorism; (3) that the law was politically useful to certain sectors of El Salvador’s political elite, however paradoxically, in the context of democratically contested politics and intensifying social protest. This study builds on a series of interviews that were conducted in El Salvador during the summer of 2008 with individuals who had some sort of connection with this legislation or the events leading to its passage.

From the Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD, Volume 4, Issue 2, Spring 2009. Published by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Henry Biggs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Joy Zalis Kiefer, Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Co-editor, and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Kristin Sobotka, Editor.


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