State of Exception in its 7th month
The Bukele regime proclaims that it has now arrested more than 54,000 persons alleged to have ties to the gangs since March 27. And daily it continues to announce additional arrests of persons that security forces say are tied to one of the country's street gangs.
Starting Saturday, October 1, police and military set up a cordon around the town of Comasagua, searching all who entered or left as security forces searched for gang members allegedly linked to a recent killing. By Monday, police said they had captured more than 50 linked to the Witmer Locos Salvatruchos cell of MS-13 in the area.
The government tweeted out videos like this one of the operation:
A poco más de 24 horas de iniciar el #CercoComasagua, la @PNCSV y la @FUERZARMADASV capturaron a Carlos Alberto Mancía Pérez alias “Chan Chan” y Carlos Antonio Valladares Corea alias “Delincuente”, terroristas responsables del asesinato cometido el sábado 1 de octubre. pic.twitter.com/N9NspdcvHv— Casa Presidencial 🇸🇻 (@PresidenciaSV) October 3, 2022
Videos like this are designed to convince the public that the State of Exception needs to remain in place.
|El Salvador government graphic|
on results of State of Exception
The cost to achieve the current results has been widespread instances of human rights violations. The human rights group Cristosal reports that it received 2775 complaints of arbitrary detentions during the first six months of the State of Exception. Within those detentions were 47 persons with disabilities and 223 persons with chronic medical conditions.
Salvadoran legal expert Wilson Sandoval was quoted in EDH lamenting the ” illegal arrests and deaths in penal centers of detainees who never knew the reason for their detention or saw a judge.”
Meanwhile, Cristosal is warning about changes in criminal laws adopted by the Legislative Assembly and in proposal stage, which would make many of the measures of the State of Exception permanent.
The permanent exception regime is complemented by a political decision already taken previously by the groups in power which control the Presidential Palace to violate human rights and to saturate citizens with the idea that violating human rights is necessary or justified in the name of security,
The International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a report today titled A Remedy for El Salvador’s Prison Fever which all should read. Following an extensively documented discussion of events leading up to the State of Exception and over the past six months, the report goes on to tackle the important question of “What now?”
The campaign to arrest anyone who has, has had or may have had a link with gangs could force former members back into crime if they see no hope of anything else. Mass arrests of former gang members who have converted to Christianity in order to quit gang life are troubling. Dire overcrowding, combined with the government’s refusal to take responsibility for what has gone wrong – from custodial deaths to wrongful arrests – could fuel tensions in jails, leading to mutinies and escapes.
El Salvador needs a more humane and sustainable approach to solving its gang problem. A crucial plank of such a policy would be the creation of a clear pathway out of gang life for jailed and free members. Even as they seek to profit politically from fighting crime, Bukele and his senior officials should be mindful of the innate dangers of a huge prison population, which must be fed and housed, and begin looking for ways to release jailed suspects and convicts subject to their monitored participation in rehabilitation programs. Various bills to create a national rehabilitation scheme have been tabled in the country’s Legislative Assembly over recent years, but none has prospered; these should be revived. A rehabilitation and reintegration initiative should include measures that promote employment for former gang members, with support from churches and civil society.