Control of the Judiciary and Democratic Erosion in Central America: The Cases of El Salvador and Guatemala

  • Authors:
    Marisa Ramos Rollón and Francisco Javier Álvarez García
    Red Iniciativa Centroamérica (Red ICA) – Development Institute, Universidad Loyola Andalucía
    Year: 2023


This paper highlights the decline of democracy in Central America, specifically in El Salvador from 2019 to the present and Guatemala between 2015 and 2022. The increase of presidential power, annulment of political control mechanisms, and manipulation of democratic institutions contribute to this deterioration. One common tactic is the capture of the judiciary to consolidate autocratic power under the guise of legality. The paper is divided into three sections. The first presents theoretical and conceptual elements that inform the analysis of democratic erosion and its relation to executive control of the judiciary. The second section describes the process of democratic deterioration in both countries. The final section identifies the interactions between the executive and judiciary in each country, highlighting differences. The judiciary has historically maintained some independence in El Salvador, while in Guatemala, it has been more subordinate to the economic elite.

View document (Spanish version)