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Wave of violence in El Salvador: Bukele reduces freedoms in response

Congress approves a state of emergency after President Bukele pointed to the increase in the wave of violence in El Salvador, which has left dozens of homicides

'Gang members' captured by the Salvadoran police

Photo: TW-PNCSV

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Ola de violencia en el Salvador: Bukele reduce libertades como respuesta

In recent days, violence in El Salvador has skyrocketed, which has generated concern for the Bukele government. In just two days, up to 76 murders have been recorded.

In this way, the Salvadoran Congress gave Nayib Bukele's government a free pass so that, through an exceptional regime, it can stop this wave of violence. In this way, as soon as the president signs the decision, and it is officially published, the freedom of association, the right of defense, the inviolability of correspondence, and the prohibition of intervention in telecommunications will be suspended. These powers assumed by the executive seek, according to the Government itself, to stop the homicides that, only last Friday, left a figure of 62 murders in the country, becoming the most violent day in recent years.

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Likewise, the police will have the possibility of using administrative detentions of 15 days, 5 times more than what was previously allowed (72 hours). However, Bukele fueled a dangerous speech in which he gives freedom to the police and the army and asked the public to "defend them from the accusations of those who protect gang members."
These measures have generated concern among human rights defenders. But the alert increased after Bukele himself threatened the criminals with repercussions for criminals already detained.

The international press has already begun to warn about the reduction in food in prisons as a method of pressure so that violence in the streets is reduced. Additionally, the Government has already reported the capture of 1,400 suspected gang members. The president assures that the food cuts are also given to be able to serve food to the new inmates. In addition, the president assured that if the international community is so concerned about "these poor little angels," let international countries allocate money and food for the prisoners since he will not be willing to reduce the budget for "health or education for feed these terrorists.

The origin of the increase in violence

Violence in El Salvador is not new. The problem of criminal gangs known as "maras" has been a problem for all governments in recent years. However, Bukele had had admirable rates and it has been one of the achievements of his administration.

However, since November 2021, the country registered a rise in homicides that left 40 murders in just 3 days. The United States accused the Bukele government of having maintained a truce with the gangs and for this reason, the Treasury Department sanctioned 2 Salvadoran officials for "secret negotiations" with the MS13. Bukele rejected such accusations and it led him into a diplomatic row with the United States.

It was Bukele himself who now accused the OAS and the IACHR of allegedly sponsoring a pact that helped the gangs. The head of government published on his social networks that the "'Truce' only strengthened the gangs and allowed them to accumulate resources, money, weapons, and allowed them to train at the army's firing ranges to kill Salvadorans. Take your plague away from our country"

This is due to an armistice in 2012 promoted by the Government of Mauricio Funez, in which the OEA accompanied as guarantor. During the validity of this truce, murders decreased in the country from an average of 14 to 5 daily. However, after the truce ended in 2015, the murder rate reached 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest on the entire planet.