El Salvador destroys gang members’ tombstones


SANTA TECLA, El Salvador — El Salvador’s authorities took its efforts in opposition to the nation’s highly effective road gangs to a different degree by sending inmates into cemeteries to destroy the tombs of gang members at a time of yr when households sometimes go to their family members’ graves.

Armed with sledgehammers and pry bars, inmates broke up tombs marked with “MS,” of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, in a San Salvador suburb Tuesday.

Santa Tecla Mayor Henry Flores stated the crews had destroyed practically 80 tombstones within the municipal cemetery and erased gang-related graffiti. “Our plan is that there isn’t a graffiti so the individuals really feel protected,” Flores stated.

El Salvador has been below a state of exception since late March. President Nayib Bukele requested and acquired the particular powers, which droop some constitutional rights, after gangs killed 62 individuals throughout the nation in someday.

Since then, authorities have arrested greater than 56,000 individuals for alleged gang ties. Nongovernmental organizations have tallied a number of thousand human rights violations and at the least 80 in-custody deaths of individuals arrested throughout the state of exception.

Authorities had already painted over or eliminated gang graffiti that was once seen in neighborhoods all through El Salvador, however destroying gang members’ tombs was a brand new step. It got here as some Salvadorans visited cemeteries for the Day of the Lifeless.

Santa Tecla sits beside the capital San Salvador and has lengthy been a stronghold of the Mara Salvatrucha gang.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, gatherings in cemeteries had been restricted till this yr. This week, extra individuals came over gravesites whereas police and troopers patrolled cemeteries.

“There’s a variety of happiness with the ability to go to family who’ve died,” stated Juan Escamilla, who introduced flowers to a relative’s grave Wednesday. “Earlier than it was regular to see gang members contained in the cemetery, however at this time there’s no hazard.”

Osiris Luna, the top of El Salvador’s prisons, stated by way of Twitter that prisoners and police had destroyed tombstones of assorted gangs in cemeteries in Santa Tecla and Colón, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the capital.

Luna, who referred to gang members as “terrorists,” stated they didn’t deserve “any recognition, that’s why we destroyed each hint of those teams. On this nation, the gangs not have a spot.”

Later, the Nationwide Police stated on social platforms that residents of Candelaria de la Frontera in Santa Ana division in western El Salvador reported {that a} grave in that city had a tombstone that referenced the MS-13 gang, so police instantly went there and destroyed it.

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