President Nayib Bukele He assured this Thursday that El Salvador completed 365 days without registering homicides since he began his mandate in 2019. «We closed on May 10, 2023, with 0 homicides nationwide. With this, it’s 365 days without homicides, a whole year«He wrote on his Twitter account. But what is behind that support?
(Also: Distressing: families of two Colombians imprisoned in El Salvador cry out for help)
Since the 1st took power. June 2019 for a term of five years, Bukele has waged a whole ‘war’ against the gangs, introducing a harsh emergency regime during the last year.
(Context: El Salvador: President Nayib Bukele affirms that there have been no homicides for a year)
And although in the Salvadoran streets the citizens say that they have seen the fruits of their strategy, humanitarian organizations also criticize the measures that. In his opinion, they violate due process and the rights of the detainees.
For 2019, El Salvador closed the year with 38 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. This trend continued to decline and the year 2022 ended with 7.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, according to official data.
(Keep reading: Colombians uncover offers made to them by El Salvador for controversial capture)
The Minister of Justice and Security, Gustavo Villatoro, has said that the days without homicides are «a historical milestone» and that the task begun by the Bukele administration in 2019 «has not been easy, but it has not been impossible either.»
The Press Secretary of the Presidency also assures that «El Salvador went from being the most violent country in the world to the safest in Latin America» due to the «strategies» promoted by the head of state.
(You can read: How is the human rights situation in El Salvador of Nayib Bukele?)
This reduction in homicides occurs within the framework of the «war» that Bukele declared on the gangs 13 months ago under an emergency regime that already totals 68,294 presumed gang members -or people linked to these structures- detained.
This exceptional regime, which allows arrests without a warrant, was established on March 27, 2022 in response to an escalation of violence by gangs that claimed the lives of 87 people in El Salvador from March 25 to 27 of that year. anus.
(Also read: The feared ‘Mara 18’ for which they would have captured a Colombian in El Salvador)
However, the humanitarian organizations of that country rejected the measure and have registered until mid-March at least 5,082 «direct victims» of human rights violations, mainly due to arbitrary detentions, in the context of the emergency regime, which has been extended every month. The last extension expires this May 16.
Thus, the figure that Bukele delivered this Thursday arouses suspicion in some sectors.
(Context: The gangs that Nayib Bukele declared war on in El Salvador)
At the moment, there are no known statistics on homicides from independent sources. What has transpired is that, as a source from the Presidency’s Communications Secretariat explained to the AFP agency, the figure corresponds to «the sum of the days without homicides from 2019 to date», that is, it does not refer to 365 consecutive days, which would add up to a year.
In fact, the pro-government deputy Rebeca Santos assured on Thursday night that El Salvador counts 95 homicides between January and so far in May of this year.
During a plenary session in which there was precisely a pronouncement for the 365 (non-consecutive) days without homicides in that country, the parliamentarian said that 22 deaths were reported in January, 21 in February, 20 in March, 24 in April and 8 between the 1st. and on May 11 of this year. Santos, who is part of the ruling party Nuevas Ideas (NI), said that the figure is based on data provided by the Police, the Prosecutor’s Office and Legal Medicine.
To this are added complaints that have been made in relation to the fact that the security authorities do not report the deaths of alleged gang members in «confrontations» with elements of the Police and the Army as homicides.
In May 2022, when the emergency measure was two months old, GatoEncerrado magazine, an independent media outlet in El Salvador, published a report in which it reported how the «Police make the deaths of alleged gang members invisible in homicide statistics.» .
(You can read: El Salvador is ending gangs, but at what cost: «Much has changed»)
As this medium was able to confirm, from April 3 to May 14 of that year, for example, The National Civil Police (PNC) «reported 51 homicides and at the same time made invisible the deaths of 21 people for being suspected gang members».
After Bukele’s meeting on Thursday, the coordinator of the NGO Human Rights Commission, miguel montenegrohe stated that «if it really was fully credible news, I think it would be applauded.»
The truth is that, despite the improvement in some indices and in the midst of multiple complaints from humanitarian organizations, the number of zero homicides that Bukele gave this week actually responds to a non-consecutive count of 365 days of his presidential term. which is close to turning four years old (1,460 days).
GUILLERMO MORENO HERNANDEZ