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State of Deception – The War on Gangs


A unit of the Special Police Force of El Salvador (Sección Táctica Operativa – STO) conducts a house search in order to catch gang members and verify that the people living in the house are the proper tenants in the 22 de Abril community which is a area controlled by the Mar Salvatrucha – MS13 gang. This is part of the war on gangs under the a state of emergency declared by President Nayib Bukele

El Salvador has more than 71,000 people which is about 2% of the country’s adult population under the State of Exception that has been in place since April of last year as a method to lower the gang violence. President Bukele has been highly criticized for his approach on the ongoing war on gangs and his Territorial Control Plan measures. According to a recent report by a leading NGO (Cristosal), at least 153 inmates have died in prison since it was implemented – nearly half of them violently. This measure continues to be extended even hour it is prohibited by the constitution. The international community as well as civil society groups have condemned the new hard fist approach due to its lack of transparency and it arbitrary arrest. Those who are doing human rights work and media outlets continue to face risks and attacks by the government labeling them, as pro-gang supporter or not wanting peace for Salvadoran peoples. As President Bukele has officially been put on the ticket for the presidency to seek a second consecutive term, although unconstitutional, there’s major concern that the state of exception will continue on until 2024 and even worst to become permanent in the country.

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Juan Carlos

Emmy Award winner and freelance photographer, producer and occasional DP, covering the Western Hemisphere and sometimes other parts of the world while also pursuing… More »

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