The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, demanded this Monday that the gang members, through a message on Twitter, “stop killing now” and warned that if the escalation of murders in the country does not stop, his fellow prisoners “are going to kill him.” pay too.” “We have 16,000 homeboys (gang members) in our power. Apart from the 1,000 arrested these days. We seized everything from them, even their sleeping mats, we rationed their food and now they will no longer see the sun. Stop killing now or they will pay for it too,” Bukele published.
The gangs have some 70,000 members in El Salvador, of which 16,000 are in prison. The Salvadoran president accompanied his “Message to the gangs” with a video in which movements of inmates are observed in a penal center, without detailing whether it is from recent days.
El Salvador is under an exceptional regime, decreed early Sunday morning by Congress at the request of Bukele, which suspends some constitutional guarantees. The suspended rights are freedom of association and assembly, the right to defense, the prohibition of the intervention of telecommunications, in addition, the term of administrative detention was extended to 15 days, when it is normally 3 days.
Despite this extraordinary measure and the massive arrests, the gangs maintained their challenge to the Bukele government on Sunday. The country recorded 14 homicides on Friday, 11 on Sunday and 62 on Saturday, making this last day the deadliest in El Salvador’s recent history. The authorities blame the gangs, mainly the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), for the wave of violence, but have not yet explained the reason for the rise.
This is not the first time that a Salvadoran government has sought to combat gangs with mass arrests. In the past, former presidents Francisco Flores (1999-2004) and Elías Antonio Saca (2004-2009) did it, with their Mano Dura and Super Mano Dura plans. However, homicide rates remained on the rise until 2015, when El Salvador became the most violent country in the world with 103 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. After that year, the figures began to gradually decrease and the fall has been accentuated since 2019, when Bukele became President.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS América newsletter and receive all the key information on current affairs in the region
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.