El Salvador already has more than 170 deaths as a result of the repressive measures applied by the government of President Nayib Bukele in its attack against the gangs for ten months, according to a government spokesperson. This Monday, the Minister of Justice and Security, Gustavo Villatoro, reported on television that in 2022 92 gang members died in alleged confrontations with the authorities, of which 80 died in the framework of the so-called “war against gangs” that began at the end of of March. To this are added another 90 people who died inside the prisons since these measures were adopted, as confirmed by the official at the end of last October.
The emergency regime, extended ten times by the Salvadoran government, has achieved a historic reduction in homicides and the displacement of gangs from the territories. However, the costs have been criticized by human rights organizations that denounce arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, torture and even murders inside prisons.
The measure began after gangs carried out a massacre that left 87 dead in one weekend. In response, the Bukele Administration established an emergency regime that restricts some constitutional rights of citizens and that has allowed the capture of more than 60,000 Salvadorans.
According to official information from the Police, El Salvador registered a total of 615 homicides, a rate of 9.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, a historical record for the Central American country, which in 2015 reported a rate of 105 on the same scale. . The World Health Organization considers an epidemic to be anything that generates more than 10 homicides per hundred thousand inhabitants. This is the first year since the beginning of the century that El Salvador has a rate below that threshold.
However, this has not been enough for the propaganda apparatus of the Bukele government. To look better, the ruling party subtracted from the official figures publicly disseminated on social networks the 92 deaths of suspected gang members. Of the total number of violent deaths registered last year, 18.5% were from shots fired by security forces. This is not counting the 90 deaths inside the prisons, many of which remain unclear.
On the latter, President Bukele ruled last October, indicating them as natural deaths. “But in prisons people die like they die outside because they get sick, because they get old; there are some who have terminal illnesses, etc.,” the president said on television. However, human rights organizations and official Police documents leaked by the press deny this version.
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Regarding the deaths caused by confrontations, Minister Villatoro denies that it is an excessive use of force. “We are carrying out all this war protocol with a broad respect for human rights. Personally, I have never been a participant in the fact that crime is fought with another crime. That is, grabbing murderers to kill them,” said the official in the interview on Monday.
Villatoro assured that the Police are applying a “war protocol with broad respect for human rights.” However, his version is questioned by reports from national and international human rights organizations. A report released by Human Rights Watch last Friday pointed to “wide-scale abuses” by the government against the more than 60,000 people captured leading up to the measure.
The ruling party has reacted by pointing to international organizations and newspapers as “defenders of the gangs.” “None of these who are making siren songs in favor of terrorist groups and who want to see us subjugated in a country full of blood, mourning, pain, none of these human rights organizations have generated positive news in this regard,” Villatoro said. this Monday.
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