{"code":"26144","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"1355","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202204\/el_salvador\/26144","link_edit":"","name":"Will the State of Exception Be the New Normal?","slug":"will-the-state-of-exception-be-the-new-normal-","info":"The government not only extended the politically popular state of exception for another month on Sunday; it also seized the moment to temporarily exempt security spending from legal oversight. Despite widespread flak from human rights groups as evidence accumulates of police abuses and arbitrary detentions, Bukele\u2019s party passed legislation to allow for government land expropriation to build more prisons. The country has the second-highest incarceration rate in the Americas.","mtag":"Newsletter","noun":{"html":"El Faro English","data":{"el-faro-english":{"sort":"","slug":"el-faro-english","path":"el_faro_english","name":"El Faro English","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1355","pict":{"cms-image-000037438-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"37438","name":"cms-image-000037438.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037438.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037438.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037438-jpg","text":"<p>Amid the state of exception on Monday, Apr. 4, President Bukele swore in a new class of 1,450 members of the Armed Forces on the soccer field of the Military Academy in Antiguo Cuscatl\u00e1n, La Libertad. In his remarks that day, Bukele accused NGOs of not defending human rights and baselessly asserted that the international community profits off of the gangs' bloodshed in El Salvador.\u00a0 Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EAmid the state of exception on Monday, Apr. 4, President Bukele swore in a new class of 1,450 members of the Armed Forces on the soccer field of the Military Academy in Antiguo Cuscatl\u00e1n, La Libertad. In his remarks that day, Bukele accused NGOs of not defending human rights and baselessly asserted that the international community profits off of the gangs' bloodshed in El Salvador.\u00a0 Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037439-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37439","name":"cms-image-000037439.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037439.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037439.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037439-jpg","text":"<p>At the onset of the state of exception, those looking to find and feed their detained loved ones crowded around the San Salvador police holding facility El Penalito. Photo: Carlos Barrera \/ El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EAt the onset of the state of exception, those looking to find and feed their detained loved ones crowded around the San Salvador police holding facility El Penalito. Photo: Carlos Barrera \/ El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037440-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37440","name":"cms-image-000037440.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037440.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037440.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037440-jpg","text":"<p>In San Jos\u00e9 El Pino, Santa Tecla, a bastion of MS-13 in the department of La Libertad, nobody evades suspicion at the military checkpoints at the three entrances to the community. \"Every morning I go out to sell tortillas at the entrance to Villa Del Mar. I have to show my ID. If not, they don't let me in or out of the house,\" says Blanca Mart\u00ednez, 68, after being interrogated upon leaving home. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EIn San Jos\u00e9 El Pino, Santa Tecla, a bastion of MS-13 in the department of La Libertad, nobody evades suspicion at the military checkpoints at the three entrances to the community. \"Every morning I go out to sell tortillas at the entrance to Villa Del Mar. I have to show my ID. If not, they don't let me in or out of the house,\" says Blanca Mart\u00ednez, 68, after being interrogated upon leaving home. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":37438,"date":{"live":"2022\/04\/26"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"04","data_post_dateLive_DD":"26","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/suscribe\/en\/\" target=\"_blank\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ESubscribe to our newsletter\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Sunday, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly voted to extend for 30 days the state of exception that has curbed civil liberties in response to a three-day\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202203\/el_salvador\/26100\/Is-Bukele\"\u003Espike in homicides\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0one month ago. First set to expire on Wednesday, it will now continue until May 27.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe decision comes as\u00a0\u003Cstrong\u003Ereports of arbitrary arrests and human rights abuses\u003C\/strong\u003E\u00a0during the first 30 days have been mounting. The extension means that rights to association and legal counsel when arrested\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202203\/el_salvador\/26102\/No-New-Ideas-after-El-Salvador%E2%80%99s-Homicide-Crisis.htm\"\u003Ewill remain suspended\u003C\/a\u003E, and the maximum period for detention before seeing a judge remains an extended 15 days rather than the usual 72 hours.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe government claims to have arrested more than 17,000 gang members since the state of exception began, and the police union claims it received reports of\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/www.bbc.com\/mundo\/noticias-america-latina-61115450\"\u003Earrest quotas\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0imposed under threat of transfer to undesirable posts. \u201cMore than 1,000 terrorists captured just today,\u201d\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/nayibbukele\/status\/1518476362713116672\"\u003EBukele tweeted\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0on Sunday.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=2000&ImageId=37439 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"At the onset of the state of exception, those looking to find and feed their detained loved ones crowded around the San Salvador police holding facility El Penalito. Photo: Carlos Barrera \/ El Faro\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E At the onset of the state of exception, those looking to find and feed their detained loved ones crowded around the San Salvador police holding facility El Penalito. Photo: Carlos Barrera \/ El Faro \u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/figcaption\u003E \u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhile one month ago the surge in violence was the main argument for invoking the state of exception,\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/PNCSV\/status\/1518463028718718976\/photo\/2\"\u003Epolice data\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0show\u00a0\u003Cstrong\u003Ethe trend dramatically reversed after a few days.\u003C\/strong\u003E Bukele renewed the state of exception despite the fact that from April 1 through last Sunday the country registered just 0.8 homicides per day, far below last year\u2019s average of 3.1.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERuling-party legislators said they would not stop the extraordinary measures\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26143\/Asamblea-bukelista-ampl%C3%ADa-R%C3%A9gimen-de-Excepci%C3%B3n-por-30-d%C3%ADas-y-anula-la-ley-de-compras-del-Estado.htm\"\u003Euntil they arrested all the country\u2019s gang\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0members \u2014estimated at about 70,000\u2014 yet they have not articulated any broader security strategy. For decades the question of the gangs has been addressed through failed but politically popular crackdowns that fueled cycles of retribution and towering rates of violence.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cUniversities instead of prisons\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201c\u200b\u200bApart from the merely political speeches, no official or legislator stopped to explain how the renewal of the state of exception will resolve, in the short term, some of the country's longstanding problems, such as the high caseload of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders or the overcrowding in prisons, where there were already about 39,000 inmates,\u201d\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26143\/Asamblea-bukelista-ampl%C3%ADa-R%C3%A9gimen-de-Excepci%C3%B3n-por-30-d%C3%ADas-y-anula-la-ley-de-compras-del-Estado.htm\"\u003Ewrites\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0El Faro reporter Gabriel Labrador.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Salvador has the\u00a0\u003Cstrong\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/www.prisonstudies.org\/sites\/default\/files\/resources\/downloads\/world_prison_population_list_13th_edition.pdf\"\u003Esecond-highest\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0per capita incarceration rate in the Americas\u003C\/strong\u003E\u00a0after the United States and looks poised to defend that distinction. Bukele\u2019s party passed\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/www.elsalvador.com\/noticias\/nacional\/diputados-bukele-ley-crear-carceles\/947778\/2022\/\"\u003Enew legislation\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0last week to build an unspecified number of new prisons in rural areas around the country. The law will give the Ministry of Public Works the authority to mark land and facilities for expropriation and bypass contract procurement oversight.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cMore prisons for gang members, so they never again see the light of day,\u201d\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/ChrisGuevaraG\/status\/1516480882286247939?s=20&t=3rrJbaPojXMMaKf9Fbo2Ug\"\u003Etweeted\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0Nuevas Ideas bloc chair Christian Guevara, who\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/ChrisGuevaraG\/status\/1367982967176507395?s=20&t=3rrJbaPojXMMaKf9Fbo2Ug\"\u003Elast May\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0claimed Bukele-run prisons were \u201cspaces for reinsertion.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele himself, as a presidential candidate,\u00a0pledged to build \u201cuniversities instead of prisons.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=2000&ImageId=37438 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Amid the state of exception on Monday, Apr. 4, President Bukele swore in a new class of 1,450 members of the Armed Forces on the soccer field of the Military Academy in Antiguo Cuscatl\u00e1n, La Libertad. In his remarks that day, Bukele accused NGOs of not defending human rights and baselessly asserted that the international community profits off of the gangs' bloodshed in El Salvador.\u00a0 Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E Amid the state of exception on Monday, Apr. 4, President Bukele swore in a new class of 1,450 members of the Armed Forces on the soccer field of the Military Academy in Antiguo Cuscatl\u00e1n, La Libertad. In his remarks that day, Bukele accused NGOs of not defending human rights and baselessly asserted that the international community profits off of the gangs' bloodshed in El Salvador.\u00a0 Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro \u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/figcaption\u003E \u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EInternational and local civic organizations have roundly criticized the state of exception for infringing on human rights without having any proven impact on improving security. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/CIDH\/status\/1516763934837157890?s=20&t=GqbR2KauSlm2ys8LJBQ2HA\"\u003Ecalled on\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0El Salvador to take actions that \u201cguarantee public safety and respect for rights and human dignity.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EInstead, the mass arrests have led to overcrowded prison cells and\u00a0\u003Cstrong\u003Ethrongs of distressed wives, mothers, and girlfriends\u003C\/strong\u003E\u00a0outside looking for information about their sons and partners and even bringing them their meals,\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26124\/Greta-y-las-mujeres-del-Penalito.htm\"\u003Ereports\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0El Faro\u2019s Carlos Mart\u00ednez.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EReports of dozens of Salvadorans without apparent gang affiliations swept up in the arrests have been documented by human rights groups and on social media. On April 9,\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/www.elsalvador.com\/noticias\/nacional\/regimen-de-excepcion-capturas-1200-cafe-ciudad-credisa\/945028\/2022\/\"\u003Efour workers\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0from a popular San Salvador coffee shop were detained until the Bukele-sympathetic owner, the national baristas\u2019 champion, directly petitioned the president on Twitter for their release.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn April 15,\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/elsalvador_sos\/status\/1515450917595717637\"\u003EKevin Rivas\u003C\/a\u003E, a 24-year-old audiovisual producer, was arrested in his house in Soyapango. \u201cMy son\u2019s only sin is living in a conflict zone,\u201d\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/v_melara\/status\/1515363206700535808\"\u003Etweeted\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0his mom. He was released two days later after outcry from friends and family. On April 18, street food vendor\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/www.elsalvador.com\/noticias\/nacional\/familia-denuncia-captura-emprendedora-alegria-usulutan\/948082\/2022\/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=noticias&utm_campaign=organico\"\u003ERoxana Cortez\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0was arrested in Alegr\u00eda, Usulut\u00e1n. Her daughter\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/gladis_cortez_\/status\/1517952117914447872\"\u003Edenounced\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0on Twitter that the family has not been given any reason for her arrest.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele has\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202204\/el_salvador\/26128\/Gang-Expert-Flees-El-Salvador-after-Intimidation-from-Bukele.htm\"\u003Eassailed\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0critics as defenders of criminals and passed legislation that press advocates warn censors reporting on gangs. Following the reforms, his allies have threatened journalists with criminal investigations and smeared them as \u201cinformational terrorists.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president of the Legislative Assembly went as far as to ask critical journalists to simply\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26136\/Tras-una-semana-de-acoso-a-la-prensa-el-presidente-de-la-Asamblea-exige-a-periodistas-v%C3%A1yanse.htm\"\u003Eleave the country\u003C\/a\u003E. \u201cThese \u2018uncomfortable\u2019 journalists say they\u2019re scared,\u201d he said during an Assembly session on Apr. 19, in allusion to El Faro\u2019s longtime marketing slogan, \u2018periodismo inc\u00f3modo.\u2019 He added:\u00a0\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cWe don\u2019t need them here. Leave!\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBukele defended the extension of the state of exception as\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/twitter.com\/nayibbukele\/status\/1518417636887040000\"\u003Edemocratic\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0because it passed with the necessary votes Sunday.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHiding Government Payments\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe president also sponsored new legislation to exempt security spending from legal oversight for that period, similar to legislation approved during the pandemic that led to irregular spending. By the end of 2020,\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26143\/Asamblea-bukelista-ampl%C3%ADa-R%C3%A9gimen-de-Excepci%C3%B3n-por-30-d%C3%ADas-y-anula-la-ley-de-compras-del-Estado.htm\"\u003E66 percent\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0of government purchases revealed some irregularity, according to the Attorney General\u2019s Office.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cLogically, if we are facing an emergency situation to combat and control this wave of violence, we need deadlines and contracts to be accelerated,\u201d\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.net\/es\/202204\/el_salvador\/26143\/Asamblea-bukelista-ampl%C3%ADa-R%C3%A9gimen-de-Excepci%C3%B3n-por-30-d%C3%ADas-y-anula-la-ley-de-compras-del-Estado.htm\"\u003Esaid\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0Nuevas Ideas legislator Jorge Castro. \u201cThis has nothing to do with transparency. It has to do with obtaining the tools as soon as possible.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E \u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=3000&ImageHeight=2000&ImageId=37440 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"In San Jos\u00e9 El Pino, Santa Tecla, a bastion of MS-13 in the department of La Libertad, nobody evades suspicion at the military checkpoints at the three entrances to the community. \"Every morning I go out to sell tortillas at the entrance to Villa Del Mar. I have to show my ID. If not, they don't let me in or out of the house,\" says Blanca Mart\u00ednez, 68, after being interrogated upon leaving home. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E In San Jos\u00e9 El Pino, Santa Tecla, a bastion of MS-13 in the department of La Libertad, nobody evades suspicion at the military checkpoints at the three entrances to the community. \"Every morning I go out to sell tortillas at the entrance to Villa Del Mar. I have to show my ID. If not, they don't let me in or out of the house,\" says Blanca Mart\u00ednez, 68, after being interrogated upon leaving home. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \/ El Faro \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/figcaption\u003E \u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Faro previously revealed that Bukele\u2019s chief of prisons, Osiris Luna, took advantage of loosened pandemic-era spending regulations to\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/web.archive.org\/web\/20230809160132\/https:\/\/elfaro.us19.list-manage.com\/track\/click?u=a822abdb775cca5db840e11e5&id=e8113e4352&e=3e101df639\" target=\"_blank\" data-saferedirecturl=\"https:\/\/www.google.com\/url?q=https:\/\/elfaro.us19.list-manage.com\/track\/click?u%3Da822abdb775cca5db840e11e5%26id%3De8113e4352%26e%3D3e101df639&source=gmail&ust=1651076032554000&usg=AOvVaw0fUxp0i1fHyXsTtXaLpFKr\"\u003Eembezzle $1.6 million\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0in food aid meant for needy Salvadoran families. In December of the following year the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Luna, and then did the same to Bukele\u2019s chief of cabinet for leading a \u201cmulti-ministry, multi-million-dollar corruption scheme\u201d during the pandemic.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELuna was also accused by the U.S. for leading secret gang negotiations on behalf of Bukele\u2019s administration in order to curb the homicides in the country. Experts say that a crunch in this negotiation could be at the root of the abrupt violence spike one month ago.\u003C\/p\u003E"}