El Salvador Police Director Threatens to Jail Journalists Who Covered Gang-Government Truce | International

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Nayib Bukele and Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, during a police ceremony in San Salvador, on September 30, 2020.JOSE CABEZAS (Reuters)

The Government of Nayib Bukele has intensified its persecution against journalists. This Tuesday, the director of the Salvadoran police, Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, has reported that the reporters who denounced and investigated the secret negotiations between the government of then-President Mauricio Funes and the maras, the gangs that sowed terror in the Central American country, will be prosecuted. , where they controlled large territories. The so-called “truce” was agreed in 2012 and made it possible to reduce the rates of violence at that time in El Salvador. “Those political leaders, like some journalists who were also in that [tregua] Those in charge of justice and criminal prosecution policy will show them at the judicial level at any time," Arriaza warned. "They will have to respond in those actions in which they apologized for the crime and induced so that aggravating things or circumstances will affect the Salvadoran people," said the officer.

The Salvadoran justice system sentenced former President Funes to 14 years in prison at the end of May for having negotiated the so-called truce with the gangs during his term (2009–2014). Funes sought refuge in Nicaragua in 2016, where he has the protection of Daniel Ortega, who has granted him Nicaraguan nationality. Along with the former president, David Munguía Payés, former Minister of Justice and Security, has also been sentenced to 18 years in prison. "Former officials allowed the gangs to strengthen themselves economically and in the territory, in exchange for reducing the homicide rate between 2011 and 2013, to benefit the government in power and favor it in the elections," the prosecutor's office stated in its indictment.

The disclosure of the negotiations between the government and the gangs generated a political scandal in El Salvador, a country mired in brutal violence. The leaks put the Funes Executive on the ropes, at a time when corruption scandals involving the president were also known. The digital outlet El Faro was one of the first to denounce the negotiations, becoming the focus of government criticism. “The police director announces that they will go after journalists who covered the truce. This country would not have known the truce without journalism, nor the many subsequent pacts, including that of the Bukele government. This is scandalous!" journalist Óscar Martínez, editor-in-chief of El Faro, wrote on Twitter.

Arriaza has assured this Tuesday in a television program that the Salvadoran justice will take action against politicians and reporters who covered those negotiations. Although the official did not name the reporters, he warned that "they are in the arena." This is a new onslaught by the Bukele regime against the independent press in El Salvador. The president has focused his criticism against media such as El Faro, which has publicized negotiations between the current government and the gangs. Due to the persecution against him, the newsroom of the outlet decided to change its administrative operation to Costa Rica. “Our newsroom will continue in San Salvador and we will continue doing journalism in El Salvador. But our administrative and legal operation no longer. We are now a Central American newspaper based in San José. It is the culmination of a process that we undertook a few months ago due to the lack of conditions to continue operating in El Salvador,” reported El Faro in mid-April.

Arriaza's announcement comes at a time when Bukele has launched a bloody war against the gangs, which has left 68,000 people detained to date. Bukele has imposed an emergency regime for a year that has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations, which have stated that the human rights of detainees have been violated.

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