Terrorism Confinement Center: "The largest prison in America": the gigantic prison of Bukele to lock up the gangs | International

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It has been presented to the world as "the largest prison in all of America", with an overwhelming staging, and as one of the main achievements of his Government. The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has announced the construction in just seven months of a gigantic prison built in an isolated area of ​​the country, where the authorities will imprison members of the gangs against which the Central American president has unleashed a controversial war , strongly criticized by human rights organizations, which accuse the Government of using torture, arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances in its attack against the so-called maras.

The prison bears the eloquent name of Terrorism Containment Center and given the staging with which the young president has presented her, there is no doubt that she will become a fundamental piece of his onslaught against crime, which has left at least 175 dead in 10 months. "El Salvador has managed to go from being the most insecure country in the world, to the safest country in the Americas," Bukele wrote when presenting the center on Twitter, his favorite tool to communicate the achievements of his Administration. “How did we do it? Putting criminals in jail. There is space? Now yes. Will they be able to give orders from inside? No. Will they be able to escape? No. A work of common sense ”, he has affirmed.

The video with which the president presents the new prison is a spectacular staging, as are Bukele's presentations. It begins with a scene recorded at night, a general shot that shows the progress of a caravan of trucks to the prison. Sirens, military vehicles, soldiers surrounding the complex complete the scene, which leads to the president's entrance to the complex, where he is received by his Security Minister, the prison director and other officials. “Welcome to the Terrorism Confinement Center, a key piece in winning the war against the gangs,” one of the men tells him, who invites Bukele to start the tour of the enormous prison. The center, they explain to the president, was built in a "completely isolated" space, on 165 hectares acquired by the Government. The complex shows huge barracks where the prisoners will be locked up and, according to the official explanation, it will have factories where they will be forced to work, "because these guys have not come to rest, they do not think they are going to be in a hotel, Mr. President . May all this work produce something for society and thus compensate a little for the year caused”, says the guide.

The next scene shows dozens of police and riot police in training maneuvers, moving through the complex and between the cells, including the isolation or "punishment" areas, as the official who directs the president's tour calls it. "Obviously they must exist, Mr. President," says the man. “The gunmen who were in charge of killing Salvadoran people are going to be in a cell like this one,” he affirms. “Anyone who wants to organize some kind of altercation within this confinement center will also be affected by this type of regime, where they will not see sunlight,” the official concludes.

Agents of the security forces during a demonstration at the center's facilities.Presidency (AFP)

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Bukele has celebrated himself for the prison and for his strategy against the gangs. This Wednesday he has shown the statistics of the National Police and has affirmed that "February closes its first day with 0 homicides in El Salvador, the safest country in America", in his daily account of the alleged progress of his war, increasingly staff, against gangs. “El Salvador closes the month of January 2023 with an annualized rate below 2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The lowest homicide rate in the entire American continent”, he had stated.

Bukele launched an emergency regime 10 months ago that has achieved a historic reduction in homicides. The Government has captured more than 60,000 gang members and closes the siege against their leaders, but along the way the authorities have committed gross violations of human rights. A report presented at the end of January by Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals that "abuses on a large scale" have been committed, including extreme overcrowding, violations of due process, lack of guarantees, mass arrests and deaths in custody. “Thousands of people, including hundreds of minors, have been arrested and prosecuted for broadly defined crimes that violate basic due process guarantees and undermine the prospects for justice for victims of gang violence.” The Salvadoran president has criticized the human rights organizations that denounce these abuses and the media, which are accused of siding with the gangs.

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