By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is taking radical measures to suppress gang violence in the neighbouring country after a wave of murders which included 62 murders on Saturday, according to Reuters.
El Salvador’s gang violence led by the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 has placed El Salvador as one of the countries that have the highest murder rate in the world.
From the time Bukele took over as president of the Central American nation in 2019, he has walked a hard line against gangs, and now he is resorting to radical measures which would see gang members and even members of the media jailed for up to 15 years for relaying gang messages.
“When the Germans wanted to eradicate Nazism, they outlawed Nazi symbols (…); no one said anything,” Bukele tweeted after El Salvador’s Congress passed the crackdown bill on Tuesday. “That’s what we’ll do with the gangs.”
In March, Bukele used his constitutional powers to suspend a number of constitutional rights in his crackdown on gangs that are involved in fights for turf, extortion, and drug trafficking.
Once Bukele signs the bill it will become law and persons found guilty of relaying gang messages could end up 15 years behind bars.
Salvadoran police have arrested 6,894 gang members over the last 11 days in the fight against gangs, tweeted the National Civil Police.
In the case of journalists, if they publish pictures of gang messages, which they have done countless times when showing messages as part of their news stories on gang violence, that could land them in jail as well.
Members of the opposition and crime reporters have expressed themselves against the measures.
Opposition representative Rene Portillo said the move is a “clear violation of the freedom of the press and liberty of information.”