“Here we persevere day by day”: shaved head, sometimes head-high tattoos, and 12,000 suspected gang members from El Salvador To live together in a mega prison inaugurated by the President Naeeb Bukhele As a banner of his war against gangs.
capable of 40,000 people,The prison, located in Tecoluca, 74 km southeast of San Salvador, began receiving inmates on February 24, six months ago, according to the government. news agency AFP He visited the prison on Monday with government human rights officials.
“Here we persevere day by day, trying to change with the help of our God,” says Jose Harquilla Bonilla of the Barrio 18 gang from inside a cell.
Humanitarian organizations have questioned the alleged treatment of gang members. The UN condemned at least 1,600 minors among the tens of thousands of detainees.
Most of the prisoners are accused of being violent Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18Born in the streets of the American city of Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
“When you’re a kid, somebody lies to you, sugarcoats you, you’re wrong, and when you grow up (…) you realize it,” says 37-year-old inmate Nelson Velasquez. The one with “MS-13″ (Mara Salvatrucha) tattooed on his head.
Velázquez spoke as El Salvador’s human rights commissioner, Colombian Andres Guzmán, and human rights lawyer Raquel Caballero visited the mega-prison.
Between 60 and 75 inmates live together in each cell of about 100 square meters. They have two toilets and two sinks with running water for cleaning, as well as two containers for drinking water.
Handcuffed and wearing an immaculate white T-shirt, shorts and mask like the rest of the inmates, Velasquez said he had already served two sentences of 15 years for different crimes, but now he was awaiting a new trial.
The prison’s pavilions have a curved roof that guarantees natural ventilation for inmates, as well as skylights to filter the sun’s rays onto the patios separating the cells.
The prison was built to house a portion of the more than 72,000 gang members detained under emergency rule ordered by Congress in March 2022 at Bugel’s request in response to the escalation of violence that claimed 87 lives in three days.
of the total number of prisoners “More than 7,000 have been released to date”Defense Minister Gustavo Villatoro said on Tuesday.
To build the prison, the government acquired 166 hectares, 23 of which were used to build eight pavilions, surrounded by a concrete wall 11 meters high and 2.1 kilometers long, protected by electrified wires.
After talking to inmates in various prisons, the human rights lawyer, Raquel Caballero said inmates complained of food shortages.
“They complain that the food is not enough” and “they are resting, they are not doing anything because they are locked up,” Caballero said. AFP.
The prison has dining rooms, rest rooms, a gym and ping pong tables, but only for the use of guards. There are dark, windowless “punishment cells” to punish misbehaving inmates.
Virtual courtrooms are available to keep prisoners out of jail. They also cannot receive family visits.
On a visit to the prison, Commissioner Guzmán inquired about the condition of the inmates, noting that the majority were not short of water, but They asked for a broom and soap for the toilet.
A doctor said “daily” water samples are taken and sent to a lab to guarantee their quality.
Other inmates split opinions: some say they get toothpaste, brushes and soap on time, while others demand medication for sick people.
“There’s a lot of work to be done for them from a human rights standpoint, but we’re doing a good job of it,” Commissioner Guzmán said. He said the prisoners were “in decent condition”.
Human rights organizations have condemned Cristobal 174 deaths of prisoners in state custody By the end of the first year of emergency rule, he described what he described as a “perpetual act of repression and human rights violations”. UN to investigate these deaths.
The lawyer said the jail has a medical team of 50 including nurses and doctors.
(With information from AFP)
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