The Price of Gouging

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, known for his aggressive crackdown on street gangs, is threatening to employ similar heavy-handed tactics against wholesalers and distributors accused of price gouging, the Associated Press reported.

Since 2022, the populist leader has used emergency powers to arrest more than 78,000 suspected gang members – often with little evidence – in his crackdown on the street gangs that controlled and terrorized neighborhoods across the country.

Last week, he threatened to use a similar strategy on wholesalers and distributors blamed for the recent increase in the price of food and other basic goods.

Bukele ordered the alleged price gougers to “stop abusing the people of El Salvador, or don’t complain about what happens afterward” – a remark similar to one he made against criminal gangs in 2022.

Observers noted that while the current emergency powers do not allow Bukele to round up individuals for charging too much, the president alleged there was evidence that the accused had engaged in tax evasion, bribery and the importation of illegal goods.

Government investigations found that the price of some products has tripled, with officials adding that issuing fines against violators might not be enough. Meanwhile, the government has also announced plans to set up 20 sales points to distribute food “at fair prices.”

Bukele is riding a wave of popularity for his clamping down on criminal gangs and was reelected earlier this year with 85 percent of the vote. His party controls the legislature and recently extended the anti-gang emergency powers.

While the policy has helped turn El Salvador into one of Latin America’s safest countries, human rights groups said that the detentions are often arbitrary, based on a suspect’s appearance or where they live.

Authorities had to release around 7,000 people because of a lack of evidence.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at [email protected].

Copy link