El Salvador is a Central American nation that is densely populated and gripped with brutality in and around its borders. It makes headlines owed to vicious gangs and their extensive criminal activities. After multiple attempts to reduce violence, the new President, Nayib Bukele, announced a multifaceted crackdown on gang members. Citizens were repeatedly the victims of shootouts, kidnappings, and general disruption of the law from the gangs.
According to the Guardian, El Salvador is one of the most dangerous places on earth. The article illustrates the afterlife of a gang member convicted under the nation’s justice system. The individual in question was a gang leader. MS-13 gang is known for its notoriety. The gang indoctrinated him as he turned 14. In an attempt to gain importance, he murdered a rival gang member. He spent ten years in prison as a convicted felon. After serving his sentence, he observed that the situation with gang violence has not changed since his incarceration. There was insufficient food to feed the citizens or enough safety for children to roam freely. His story is not isolated. Hundreds of young men are subjected to and perpetrate unquestionable violence on civilians and enemy gangs.
President Bukele posted a video on Twitter that has gone viral. In it, hundreds of prisoners were detained and running around toward a mega-prison. They were handcuffed and filmed over thrilling pop music. Twitter users deemed the imagery unsettling as the prisons are overcrowded and not in optimum conditions. The facility is officially named the Center for Confining Terrorism. Supporters of the President praised the video. For the citizens of El Salvador, it is a glaring picture of his commitment and an almost dictatorial approach to detaining gang members.
The videos and imagery showing hundreds of prisoners handcuffed and throttled across grounds have sparked human rights concerns. As mentioned before, El Salvador held the rank of the ‘murder capital’ of the world. It had the highest rate of murders barring the active war zones. The mass detention of gang members violates civil liberties, and critics allege rampant torture is not uncommon. After sunset, the streets turned into war zones, and 3830 citizens were killed in the gang wars. The President’s steps, although radical, are showing results. The number of prisoners subjected to a fair trial before imprisonment is unclear.
The government arranged rehabilitation programs for the convicted. They include vegetable and chicken farms where the former gang members work and sustain a safe livelihood. Extreme security measures are being implemented in neighboring Central American countries. Area studies experts comment that this method of mass detention is garnering popularity as leaders argue that citizens should give up some of their rights in exchange for a safe environment. It is a delicate balance for El Salvador as the justice system is edging on providing safety at the cost of human rights violations.
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