November 29, 2022

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El Salvador’s Bukele bolsters anti-gang push with new stakes from Health & Fitness Journal

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©Health & Fitness Journal. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele speaks at a deployment ceremony for the fifth phase of the Territorial Control Plan in San Juan Opico, El Salvador November 23, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

By Gerardo Arbaiza

SAN SALVADOR (Health & Fitness Journal) – Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele vowed on Wednesday to tighten security in major cities, the latest escalation of an eight-month-old war on gang violence that human rights groups say is marred by unjustified detentions.

Since March, Bukele has ordered the arrests of more than 50,000 suspected gang members he calls terrorists, while denying basic trial rights to those caught in the trawl.

The crackdown is one of his trademarks and aims to bring the Central American country’s homicide rate down to less than two a day.

At a graduation ceremony for military officers, Bukele said he would add more than 200 police officers to the 20,000 soldiers already patrolling the cities, with orders to take on gang members.

The goal is to “surround big cities and extract the terrorists hiding in the communities without giving them the slightest chance of escape,” he said.

The latest escalation follows Congress’ support for a so-called state of emergency, first authorized in March, which places strict limits on freedom of association, the right to legal defense and restrictions on telecommunications.

According to government data, the crackdown has drastically reduced killings attributed to gangs, with more than 200 days so far this year free of gang-related deaths.

Bukele launched his controversial crackdown shortly after 76 Salvadorans died in a single weekend last March.

Human rights blasted politics saying many of those arrested have no criminal record.

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