Weekly Report - 30 April 2020 (WR-20-17)

EL SALVADOR: From toughest lockdown to toughest crackdown

No country in Latin America has imposed as tough a lockdown as El Salvador in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Other than those working in essential jobs only one person per family is permitted to leave home twice a week for essentials. Swelling numbers of people are being detained by the security forces for violating these restrictions and sent to containment centres. But now this toughest of lockdowns, in place since 21 March, is being complemented by a draconian crackdown on the country’s mara gangs. President Nayib Bukele instructed the security forces to use “lethal force” against the maras after a surge in violent homicides at the weekend undermined his government’s claim to have asserted “territorial control” in the country. He also declared a state of emergency in the prison system, subjecting mara inmates to an even more severe regime.

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