Human rights or human safety 

El Salvador’s actions are justified

Press Secretary Of The Presidency Of El Salvador/ Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Press Secretary Of The Presidency Of El Salvador/ Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Valerie Servellon

An eye for an eye. That’s what El Salvador’s mass prison, a capacity of 40,000 prisoners, is working for. Since El Salvador’s civil war over 40 years ago, the country has been overrun with hundreds of thousands of gang members, making a country only about the size of Maryland one of the most dangerous in the world. 

When El Salvador’s 41-year-old president, Nayib Bukele, stepped into office 4 years ago in 2019, he vowed to make his country safe after years of being overtaken by gang violence.

A beautiful country with black sand beaches, amazing surf towns, Aztec pyramids, and a beautiful ecosystem is only now shed light because of Bukele’s actions for his country.

“Where did this love come for El Salvador, up until recently, they couldn’t find it on a map,” Bukele stated.

When this subject is searched, many of the articles posted online to talk about “The unbelievable hell inside El Salvador prisons,” as stated.

However, what many seem to exclude, is how these mass prisons have helped the most dangerous country in the world become a safe one.

Since the country’s civil war started over 40 years ago, the country has been overwhelmed with countless murders, kidnappings, and extortion of the country’s citizens, forcing them to pay money for “protection” in their own neighborhoods. Basically, meaning “pay up or you won’t live to see the next day”.

El reported that in 2015 there was an 18.2 daily homicide rate in a country whose whole population is smaller than the population of the state of Indiana.

Since the action of the mass prisons took place, the daily homicide rate in 2022 went down to 1.4 and even reached a 300-day streak in January 2023 without any murders throughout the country.

A video posted by President Bukele on his social media showed what goes on in the mass prisons. It displayed hundreds of men, barefoot and running through the cement prison with only a pair of shorts and shaved heads. The only thing distinguishing themselves from each other was the large tattoos covering their torsos. 

President Nayib Bukele/Twitter

This video sparked lots of controversy about the country’s course of action when it came to punishment.

During a meeting with El Salvador’s supreme court on the subject of the mass prisons, Bukele stated, “I don’t care what the international organizations will say, let them come protect our people”.

Inside these mass prisons, there are 32 cells prepared to house 100 prisoners each. Each one equipped with only 2 toilets and sinks per cell, with very few meals a day, and very little sanitation throughout the facility. These prisoners are in an absolute lockdown. Some of the worst gang leaders are even put in solitary confinement. 

“Do the crime, serve the time” is very much visible. These gang members have terrorized countless lives, forcing countless families to pay monthly payments for their “protection”. They tore apart families, and traumatized children by leaving the deceased in the middle of the street where anyone could encounter them. 

Some of these “protection costs” would even follow family members out of the country. When the collections would happen, and it would slip out that you had family in the United States they would contact those out-of-country family members and extort them from a country they left behind for their own family’s protection. 

Since Bukele’s anti-gang movement, over 65,000 people have been arrested throughout the country.

Only now are people paying attention to the horrors that El Salvador had to deal with. As soon as the Salvadorian government tries to help their country with the only way possible of imprisoning those who corrupted their country, other countries are coming out of the woodwork to talk about human rights.

Where were they when the far right of El Salvador’s government was recruiting children to fight in their civil war? CHILDREN, they were giving children weapons.

“ARENA and the FMLN [political parties] recruited child soldiers to and send them to kill. We are giving them computers and laptops. They recruited them to kill,” Bukele said passionately. 

Just now do they care about the lives of criminals, not the lives of those who are completely innocent. 

I don’t believe that these prisons are completely humane, they get just what they need to survive nothing more nothing less. But what these criminals did to countless citizens of El Salvador, ruining such a beautiful country, deserves the punishment they are receiving.

A former Salvadorian citizen, and my father, David Servellon said, “The idea is not to make them comfortable, but to have them pay for their crimes”.