El Salvador stumbles as more than 6,000 people are arrested Global development

Confused families across El Salvador have been searching for information about the fate of their loved ones following an unprecedented 6,000 arrests in security operations last week.

Since the government declared a state of emergency on March 27, men, women and children have been rounded up across the Central American country, suspending constitutional rights, including the presumption of innocence.

President Naib Bukhale condemns a dictatorial populist and his opponents who use Twitter to announce policies, saying all prisoners are gang members and will not be released.

The state of emergency was declared after 87 people were killed in the three days of violence that Pukele blamed on the Mara Salvatrucha gang known as the MS-13.

Although police say they have caught the MS-13 leaders who ordered the killings, there is growing evidence that civilians living or working in gang-dominated neighborhoods have been arbitrarily arrested.

In the capital, San Salvador, hundreds of wives and mothers gather outside the naval base, which houses huge police holding cells. Vans loaded with handcuffed prisoners arrived throughout the week, and members of an evangelical congregation handed out small cup snakes to tear-stained relatives camping in the scorching sun.

Carmen Rodríguez, 33, did not know why her husband, brother and nephew were arrested a week ago while unloading a truckload of clothes for their business at the city’s main market in the historic quarter.

“When we asked the police why they were taking them, they humiliated us,” Rodriguez said as he struggles to find money for their food. “They take the righteous as sinners. The police do their job well, but it is unfair for them to take away working people – even worse they treat them like animals, ”he said.

Women react when they identify their relatives who were transferred to a prison in San Salvador last week. Photo: Jose Caposas / Reuters

Buckel announced on Twitter last week that the gang was feeding food to new inmates because he was unwilling to take money from the education budget to feed “terrorists”.

The 30-day state of emergency allows detainees 15 days – unusually three days – without access to a defense attorney and prosecutors without prosecuting a judge. The order allowing police to search cell phones and messages may be extended.

The National Assembly, controlled by Bukhelin’s allies, also passed legislation to increase prison sentences for minors and allow pre-trial detention of suspected gang members.

Zira Navas, a lawyer for Christosall, a Salvadoran human rights group, said: “Prisoners have lost their right to self-defense and have no right to know the reasons for their arrest.”

Despite the broad scope of the new emergency powers, other constitutional rights are reportedly being violated.

Rosa Lopez said police forcibly entered her home in Santa Tecla in the La Libertad area on Saturday, March 26, and arrested her 20-year-old cousin who was suffering from heart disease. Since he was arrested a day before the emergency law, a lawyer should be appointed for him three days later and he should appear in court, but he remains in hiding.

“The police did not listen and they entered the house and took him away. They went crazy that day, capturing everyone … what they were doing to him and us was horrible. This is not only unjust but also illegal, ”said Lopez, 26.

This repression was popular among many voters who were tired of the mob, but led to the locking of the entire neighborhood.

He was taken to a detention center where he was allegedly a member of the MS-13 gang.
He was taken to a detention center where he was allegedly a member of the MS-13 gang. Photo: Camilo Friedman / Sofa Images / Rex / Shutterstock

At a military checkpoint in Santa Tecla one afternoon last week, soldiers armed with AK-47s checked vehicles, checked their ID cards and addresses, and allowed them in or out of the neighborhood. Anyone considered suspicious was forced to remove it, so troops could verify gang-related tattoos.

Only those who are deemed to have a valid reason for coming in and out can pass.

“Builders and informal workers cannot leave. They are imprisoned, prisoners. Luckily I have a legitimate job [my employer] Has published a letter. But if you want to go shopping after work is not possible. There is nothing we can do about it, ”said a 35-year-old woman who did not want to be named.

Astrid Valencia, a Central American researcher at Amnesty International, said: “The actions not only suspend the basic elements of the formal process, but also tarnish and attack President Phuhel’s confrontational discourse, human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and international NGOs. And independent media outlets expressing their concerns about those activities.

Buckell has increasingly taken a stand against anyone who dares to question his government, and more recently the human rights NGOs, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and George Soros’s Open Society Charities – which provide voluntary organizations and affiliates to independent media outlets in El Salvador.

Prior to the mass arrests, El Salvador was one of the busiest prisons in the world, with a quarter of inmates being held in pre-trial detention.

When he was mayor of San Salvador, Bukele tackled unsustainable gang violence in the country, claiming to support community-run crime prevention and rehabilitation programs. After coming to power in 2019, he returned to the same position again Firm hand Or the repressive tactics of previous governments, while, according to the US, secretly negotiating with gang leaders.

Bukele denies the allegations, but reporters’ phones about the negotiated ceasefire were hacked using Israeli spyware.

The names of the victims and their relatives have been changed

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