Bukele is militarizing the entire El Salvador region in a new anti-gang operation

Thousands of police and soldiers. The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, used 7,000 army uniforms and another thousand plainclothes police to surround a detachment in the central zone of the country He argued with the search and arrest of gang members allegedly operating in rural areas of that city. He accuses them of being responsible for an attack on a security force patrol over the weekend, in which two police officers were shot and wounded.

In the department of Cabaña, in the southeast of the capital, “terrorist groups” are operating, as the president described them when he announced that the uniformed officers would “prevent gang members from leaving the department and cut off all supply lines”.

According to Bukele, “In recent weeks, Cabaña has become the place with the greatest number of terrorist cells who have come there to hide in their rural areas.” Already in June 2022, the Salvadoran government closed several secret camps in the same region.

Scores of military personnel from El Salvador’s Armed Forces (FAES) and National Civil Police (PNC) have been conducting operations around the municipalities of Victoria, Sensuntepeque and Ilobasco in recent days. A military operation also arrived in the municipality of Santa Marta. “Since dawn, four trucks with many soldiers arrived in the community. They have arrived and have been looking for a place to stay. They told us they were there to conduct operations and look for gang members.”informed one of the residents of the place to local media.

In the Cabañas operation, uniformed officers have taken control of the highways and access roads to the department and are conducting searches of people and private vehicles. People must identify themselves when entering and leaving the areaAt the same time, searches are also carried out in the communities in order to locate and apprehend the gang members.

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El Salvador.- Bukele announces an operation in the department of Cabañas to capture gang members
El Salvador.- Bukele announces an operation in the department of Cabañas to capture gang membersEUROPAPRESS

The operation ordered by Bukele is part of practices that organizations like Human Rights Watch have described as authoritarian. This Wednesday, for example, the arrest of Adolfo Alvarenga, a local, was arrested “for tattoos”.after complaints from activists, who was later released.

In El Salvador, tattoos can be interpreted as a sign of belonging to criminal groups. The exemption established by the national government allows mass arrests without the right of defense.

On Sunday, a unit of the National Police patrolled Maquilishuat Canton and An armed group ambushed them. One of the agents was seriously injured, but details of his continued health were not released. They were airlifted to the capital, San Salvador.

The military siege that began in Cabañas is the first to cover an entire departmentbut the sixth was ordered during the current government, following the measures implemented this year in Comasagua, Soyapango, La Granjita, Tutunichapa and Nueva Concepción in Chalatenango.

The latter began on May 17. after the assassination of police officer Máximo Antonio Vásquez, and is still valid. Three people were arrested for this and are facing a court hearing.

Since the beginning of the emergency regime and the “war on gangs” in March 2022, more than 72,000 suspected gang members have been arrested in El Salvador.

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