{"code":"26617","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"956","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202212\/el_salvador\/26617","link_edit":"","name":"Soldiers Arbitrarily Arrested and Tortured Eight Salvadoran Teens in Bajo Lempa","slug":"soldiers-arbitrarily-arrested-and-tortured-eight-salvadoran-teens-in-bajo-lempa","info":"In the weeks leading up to their detention and torture, eight teenagers in a community in El Salvador\u2019s Bajo Lempa faced regular harassment and intimidation at the hands of soldiers. Then, on November 5, those same soldiers entered the community at night and took the boys from their homes, loaded them into an unmarked pickup truck, and drove them to a nearby military base where they beat and humiliated them for over an hour. El Salvador\u2019s Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman determined that the boys\u2019 civil rights had been violated, but say they did not find evidence of torture and are still investigating the case.","mtag":"Violence","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/glabrador'\u003E Gabriel Labrador\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"gabriel-labrador":{"sort":"glabrador","slug":"gabriel-labrador","path":"gabriel_labrador","name":"Gabriel Labrador","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"956","pict":{"cms-image-000038435-jpeg":{"feat":"1","sort":"38435","name":"cms-image-000038435.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038435.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038435.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038435-jpeg","text":"<p>The Atl\u00e9tico Juvenil soccer team is composed of children and adolescents from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez in the Bajo Lempa. On November 5, 2022, eight members of the team disappeared for hours after they were detained by Marine infantrymen. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EThe Atl\u00e9tico Juvenil soccer team is composed of children and adolescents from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez in the Bajo Lempa. On November 5, 2022, eight members of the team disappeared for hours after they were detained by Marine infantrymen. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038436-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38436","name":"cms-image-000038436.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038436.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038436.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038436-jpeg","text":"<p>Daniel, 16, will enter ninth grade student at Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar in 2023. On November 5, Daniel was detained by Salvadoran soldiers along with seven of his schoolmates. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EDaniel, 16, will enter ninth grade student at Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar in 2023. On November 5, Daniel was detained by Salvadoran soldiers along with seven of his schoolmates. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038437-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38437","name":"cms-image-000038437.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038437.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038437.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038437-jpeg","text":"<p>Adonay, 14, is one of eight teenage minors arrested on November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez, a rural community in the southeastern Salvadoran municipality of Jiquilisco. In the mornings, he works as a fisherman and in the fields. But since the night of his arbitrary detention, Adonay has not gone back to work out of fear for his safety. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EAdonay, 14, is one of eight teenage minors arrested on November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez, a rural community in the southeastern Salvadoran municipality of Jiquilisco. In the mornings, he works as a fisherman and in the fields. But since the night of his arbitrary detention, Adonay has not gone back to work out of fear for his safety. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038438-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38438","name":"cms-image-000038438.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038438.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038438.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038438-jpeg","text":"<p>Daniel, 16, holds one of the wooden rifles that he and his classmates used as props during a play they performed on October 30, as part of the community\u2019s celebrations for D\u00eda de la Resistencia, or Resistance Day. In the play, which depicted chapters from Salvador history, the boys played government soldiers who were wounded in combat and fell to the guerrilla forces of the FMLN. Over the following days, Daniel and seven other teenage boys who had acted in the play faced harassment at the hands of soldiers, ultimately ending in their detention and torture at a nearby military base.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EDaniel, 16, holds one of the wooden rifles that he and his classmates used as props during a play they performed on October 30, as part of the community\u2019s celebrations for D\u00eda de la Resistencia, or Resistance Day. In the play, which depicted chapters from Salvador history, the boys played government soldiers who were wounded in combat and fell to the guerrilla forces of the FMLN. Over the following days, Daniel and seven other teenage boys who had acted in the play faced harassment at the hands of soldiers, ultimately ending in their detention and torture at a nearby military base.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038439-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38439","name":"cms-image-000038439.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038439.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038439.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038439-jpeg","text":"<p>In the homes of the adolescents arrested in Bajo Lempa, adults are hard to come by. The majority of the family members are small children, who spend their days in their tin-shack homes and playing in the trees outside.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EIn the homes of the adolescents arrested in Bajo Lempa, adults are hard to come by. The majority of the family members are small children, who spend their days in their tin-shack homes and playing in the trees outside.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038440-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38440","name":"cms-image-000038440.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038440.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038440.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038440-jpeg","text":"<p>The Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar, the school complex where students spent weeks rehearsing a play titled \u201cRese\u00f1a Hist\u00f3rica de El Salvador,\u201d which reenacted moments from the country\u2019s Civil War, such as the assassination of Monsignor Romero, the signing of the Peace Accords, and post-war life in the community of Amando L\u00f3pez. Many believe that the public performance of the play, on October 30, angered a group of soldiers that had already been harassing young men in the community.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EThe Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar, the school complex where students spent weeks rehearsing a play titled \u201cRese\u00f1a Hist\u00f3rica de El Salvador,\u201d which reenacted moments from the country\u2019s Civil War, such as the assassination of Monsignor Romero, the signing of the Peace Accords, and post-war life in the community of Amando L\u00f3pez. Many believe that the public performance of the play, on October 30, angered a group of soldiers that had already been harassing young men in the community.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038441-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38441","name":"cms-image-000038441.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038441.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038441.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038441-jpeg","text":"<p>Emerson, 16, is one of eight teenagers from Amando L\u00f3pez who were arbitrarily detained by soldiers on November 5. He is a student, and plays on the local soccer team. He lives with his mother, brother, and cousins.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EEmerson, 16, is one of eight teenagers from Amando L\u00f3pez who were arbitrarily detained by soldiers on November 5. He is a student, and plays on the local soccer team. He lives with his mother, brother, and cousins.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038442-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38442","name":"cms-image-000038442.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038442.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038442.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038442-jpeg","text":"<p>The young men arrested on the night of November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez say they were accused of illicit association. The boys, who play together on a soccer team, were involved in a theater performance in the month prior to their detention, where they acted out scenes from the country\u2019s Civil War that depicted government troops losing to guerilla forces. Shortly after performing the play, the soldiers started harassing them.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EThe young men arrested on the night of November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez say they were accused of illicit association. The boys, who play together on a soccer team, were involved in a theater performance in the month prior to their detention, where they acted out scenes from the country\u2019s Civil War that depicted government troops losing to guerilla forces. Shortly after performing the play, the soldiers started harassing them.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038443-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38443","name":"cms-image-000038443.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038443.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038443.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038443-jpeg","text":"<p>A mural honoring the youth of Amando L\u00f3pez, painted on the wall of the town\u2019s cultural and community space, which hosts reading and music classes.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EA mural honoring the youth of Amando L\u00f3pez, painted on the wall of the town\u2019s cultural and community space, which hosts reading and music classes.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038444-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38444","name":"cms-image-000038444.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038444.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038444.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038444-jpeg","text":"<p>A Marine infantry outpost in San Juan del Gozo, Bajo Lempa. Victim testimonies have identified this military base, about an eight-minute drive from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez, as the site of the alleged torture. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EA Marine infantry outpost in San Juan del Gozo, Bajo Lempa. Victim testimonies have identified this military base, about an eight-minute drive from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez, as the site of the alleged torture. Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000038445-jpeg":{"feat":"0","sort":"38445","name":"cms-image-000038445.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038445.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000038445.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000038445-jpeg","text":"<p>The National Civil Police station in El Zamor\u00e1n, Jiquilisco, remodeled in January 2021. El Zamor\u00e1n is the headquarters for the police units responsible for patrolling a large part of the Bajo Lempa, a region in the department of Usulut\u00e1n repopulated by former combatants after the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EThe National Civil Police station in El Zamor\u00e1n, Jiquilisco, remodeled in January 2021. El Zamor\u00e1n is the headquarters for the police units responsible for patrolling a large part of the Bajo Lempa, a region in the department of Usulut\u00e1n repopulated by former combatants after the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992.\u00a0Photo: Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":38435,"date":{"live":"2022\/12\/16"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"12","data_post_dateLive_DD":"16","text":"\u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202211\/el_salvador\/26490\/Militares-capturaron-arbitrariamente-y-torturaron-a-ocho-j%C3%B3venes-del-Bajo-Lempa.htm\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn the bed of the pickup, the eight boys tried to avoid the blows, but it was impossible. They weren\u2019t blindfolded, but they couldn\u2019t see the road, and the soldiers wouldn\u2019t let them lift their heads or take their hands off the backs of their necks. Every sharp turn, sudden brake, or rut in the road meant more jostling and more pain, as the boys thrashed and banged into the truck and each other. There were eight of them, all between the ages of 14 and 17. They had been abducted from their homes as they slept and tossed like trash bags into the back of the pickup. It was hard to breathe \u2014 even harder when the soldiers sitting on the side rail hit them and pushed down on their heads.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThat night, November 5, the pickup truck \u2014 an unmarked, grey, extended cab Hilux \u2014entered the community of Amando L\u00f3pez, in the municipality of Jiquilisco, at 7 p.m. The drivers and passengers were all soldiers, which was unusual, given that to legally carry out an arrest warrant, they would have had to be accompanied by at least one police officer. The pickup bounced along the muddy, potholed streets of the small rural town, stopping at each house, banging on each door, and asking for Ricardo, Carlitos, Roberto, Marlon, Daniel, Adonay, Edwin, and Emerson, until they found them all. \u201cThe young man will have to come with us,\u201d a soldier told the father of 16-year-old Daniel after knocking violently on the front door of their tin-shack home. The dogs in the neighborhood barked non-stop, until about 11 o\u2019clock, when the soldiers were done with their raids and the pickup drove off into the forest with the eight boys in the back.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe truck followed the paved road out of town before abruptly making a U-turn. They were no longer heading north, toward the Pan-American Highway, but south, toward the coast and Jiquilisco Bay. One of the boys was 16-year-old Emerson. He could feel his leg starting to fall asleep when the truck turned around. The U-turn gave him a bad feeling. \u201cWe thought we were going to El Zamor\u00e1n, where the police station is\u2026 but when the truck turned around and we started heading back, we got scared. We thought, \u2018then where are they taking us?\u2019 We didn\u2019t say anything in the moment, because we knew they\u2019d just hit us if we said anything, but we thought we were going there to die, because they were taking us who knows where.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38436 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Daniel, 16, will enter ninth grade student at Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar in 2023. On November 5, Daniel was detained by Salvadoran soldiers along with seven of his schoolmates. 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 Daniel, 16, will enter ninth grade student at Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar in 2023. On November 5, Daniel was detained by Salvadoran soldiers along with seven of his schoolmates. 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\u003EMeanwhile, a store on the road that splits south from the Pan-American Highway was closing down and clearing out its last customers. \u201cSometimes we stay here until pretty late at night. That day, I don\u2019t remember why, but we stayed even later,\u201d says Jeyli S\u00e1nchez, the 29-year-old sister of Jos\u00e9 Ricardo, one of the boys taken by the soldiers. An uncle called her cell phone.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Jeyli, hurry up, get back here, they took your brother.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014What? No, that can\u2019t be. Who took him?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014\u2018Who\u2019? Don\u2019t you know those guys who\u2019ve been harassing them the last few days?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014They took him? I\u2019ll be there right away\u2026\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHuman Rights Ombudsman confirms arbitrary arrests\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EMost accounts of what happened in Bajo Lempa on the night of November 5 \u2014the version of events shared by news outlets, on social media, and in communiqu\u00e9s denouncing the arbitrary arrests\u2014 go like this: A group of students from Amando L\u00f3pez had staged a community theater performance dramatizing the history of the country\u2019s civil war. The soldiers, angry at the students for the content of the play, which depicted the Salvadoran Army losing some battles to the FMLN guerilla forces, decided to arrest eight of the students in retaliation. The hour-long play is performed every year on October 30, as part of the community\u2019s annual celebration of the Day of Resistance. Roughly 40 students from different grades reenact chapters from Salvadoran history, from the conquest to the early post-war years.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EDue to a lack of information from the Army, it has been impossible for El Faro to determine whether this was actually what prompted the soldiers to carry out the raids on November 5. One thing that is clear, however, is that even before the performance on October 30, soldiers had committed other acts of aggression against the same teenagers, and against others in the community. The men responsible for those earlier instances of harassment were a group of four soldiers who had begun patrolling the area in mid-October.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAccording to six residents interviewed by El Faro, those same soldiers had briefly detained the boys during a dance that took place on October 29 in the neighboring community of La Canoa, and again on November 2, as they were walking home through the streets of Amando L\u00f3pez after laying flowers for their dead, and then again, on November 4, while they were playing a soccer game at the local community field. Each time, the soldiers ordered them to stay standing with their legs spread and their hands behind their necks. They removed the boys\u2019 shirts to look for tattoos, photographed their faces, searched through messages and pictures on their phones, and hit them in the head and ribs as they interrogated and humiliated them. They asked the boys if they were gang members, and demanded they provide the names of their leaders. And each time, finding no evidence connecting the boys to any gang, they beat them up and then let them go on their way.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EOne of the young men, 26-year-old Jos\u00e9 \u00d3liver Gonz\u00e1lez, was walking home from work when the soldiers stopped him, berated him, and then cut his hair off with a knife. Then, on the night of November 5, the eight boys were taken to a military base in the forest and subjected to one to two hours of beatings, insults, forced exercise, and death threats.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38437 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Adonay, 14, is one of eight teenage minors arrested on November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez, a rural community in the southeastern Salvadoran municipality of Jiquilisco. In the mornings, he works as a fisherman and in the fields. But since the night of his arbitrary detention, Adonay has not gone back to work out of fear for his safety. 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 Adonay, 14, is one of eight teenage minors arrested on November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez, a rural community in the southeastern Salvadoran municipality of Jiquilisco. In the mornings, he works as a fisherman and in the fields. But since the night of his arbitrary detention, Adonay has not gone back to work out of fear for his safety. 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\u003EEl Faro contacted the Salvadoran Army\u2019s press office on November 21 via telephone to request comment. The head of public relations insisted that the request be made via email. El Faro sent an email that same day, and then a WhatsApp message later that evening, and had yet to receive a response at the time of publication.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe Human Rights Ombudsman (PDDH), which has opened an investigation into the case, agreed to share some of its initial findings with El Faro. Over WhatsApp on November 15, the PDDH claimed that the eight arrests in Amando Lopez violated the boys\u2019 civil right to freedom. \u201cWhen the PDDH was made aware of the allegedly arbitrary detentions, the Ombudsman [\u2026] communicated directly with the Attorney General, apprising him of the situation and the possible consequences that an improper action by elements of the Armed Forces, who were responsible for the initial arrests, could have.\u201d According to the PDDH, Ombudsman Raquel Guevara assessed her management of the situation as \u201ca success, because they had restored the right to freedom that had been initially violated.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn response to a second request for comment concerning the reports of torture, on November 21, the PDDH told El Faro that they had been unable to confirm any of the boys\u2019 accusations of mistreatment: \u201cIn none of the interviews conducted by PDDH personnel were there any references to torture or other cruel treatment; the Ombudsman cannot rule out its occurrence, but, this [torture] has not appeared in the evidence that our office has collected to date.\u201d The PDDH says that it is still investigating the case, that \u2018no definitive conclusions have been made,\u2019 and that they have already interviewed the implicated soldiers, as well as the police officers who interviewed the victims, relatives, local witnesses, and other \u201cpeople related to the case.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe PDDH added that it had also requested that the Armed Forces and the Attorney General\u2019s Office \u201copen an investigation into the actions of the military personnel who carried out the arrests, in order to determine potential responsibility.\u201d The PDDH maintains that, if the boys were released \u2014 as they were 24 hours after their arrest, on the night of November 6 \u2014 it was only thanks to their efforts. \u201cThe Ombudsman received a positive response from the Attorney General, who tasked a prosecutor to go to the location and take charge of the legal situation with the detained minors. That same prosecutor, on the same day, secured their release.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ETestimonies from the victims gathered by El Faro indicate that the pain and discomfort the boys suffered during the pickup truck ride was only the beginning of a long night of abuse, and would not come close to being the worst experience they would suffer that night.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38443 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"A mural honoring the youth of Amando L\u00f3pez, painted on the wall of the town\u2019s cultural and community space, which hosts reading and music classes.\u00a0Photo: 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 A mural honoring the youth of Amando L\u00f3pez, painted on the wall of the town\u2019s cultural and community space, which hosts reading and music classes.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003EThe arrests completely broke the community. It was the most troubling and shocking incident the town had experienced in years, according to several residents interviewed by El Faro. In Amando L\u00f3pez \u2014a poor, rural community of about 135 families, with dirt streets and small homes made of tin and other scrap material\u2014 everyone agrees that in the past six years, gangs have almost completely disappeared from the area. In the eight months since the government declared a \u201cstate of exception\u201d and soldiers and police began rounding up alleged gang members across El Salvador, only two people had been arrested in the community. In the country as a whole, the number of reported arrests has now surpassed 58,000.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EBut Amando L\u00f3pez is one of 49 communities in this region of Usulut\u00e1n, known as the Bajo Lempa, or lower Lempa River valley, where the government\u2019s state of exception has been enforced with particular ferocity. According to the Comunidades Eclesiales de Base (CEB), a local grassroots human rights group, some 300 people have been detained in the Bajo Lempa since the start of the state of exception, of which 111 are neither gang members nor gang collaborators, as the government alleges. \u201cWe have all the documentation needed to prove the innocence of those 111 people, but we\u2019ve exhausted all avenues for judicial recourse. We\u2019ve presented habeas corpus petitions and now we\u2019re publicly requesting their release,\u201d said Jos\u00e9 Salvador Ruiz, leader of the CEB in Bajo Lempa, during a press conference on November 15. One of these 111 cases is that of Jos\u00e9 Duval Mata, who received a letter two months ago from a court in San Miguel authorizing his release, but who remains behind bars. He is currently in \u201cPhase 3\u201d maximum security at Izalco prison.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe Bajo Lempa is an area that was repopulated in the aftermath of the Salvadoran Civil War by ex-combatants from the FMLN guerilla forces. It is a low-lying floodplain at the mouth of the Lempa River, where every year, rains and upstream dam releases cause massive flooding. \u201cWe are a focal point of resistance to the policies of the current government, at an organizational level,\u201d Ruiz says. \u201cThis is why they\u2019re trying to intimidate us, by making these arrests, so that the organization falls apart.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38442 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"The young men arrested on the night of November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez say they were accused of illicit association. The boys, who play together on a soccer team, were involved in a theater performance in the month prior to their detention, where they acted out scenes from the country\u2019s Civil War that depicted government troops losing to guerilla forces. Shortly after performing the play, the soldiers started harassing them.\u00a0Photo: 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 The young men arrested on the night of November 5 in Amando L\u00f3pez say they were accused of illicit association. The boys, who play together on a soccer team, were involved in a theater performance in the month prior to their detention, where they acted out scenes from the country\u2019s Civil War that depicted government troops losing to guerilla forces. Shortly after performing the play, the soldiers started harassing them.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cWe don\u2019t know anything, go back to bed.\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EMinutes after the boys were taken, their families began gathering at the police station in El Zamor\u00e1n, anxiously waiting for the soldiers and the boys to arrive. Those few minutes of anticipation only added to their anguish.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cAt the police station, they told us they didn\u2019t know anything about any arrests, and I got even more scared and upset, because there are so many stories now about people being taken away, killed, and no one knowing anything, or they disappear them,\u201d says Jeyli, the sister of Jos\u00e9 Ricardo, one of the boys taken that night. \u201cThe soldiers were the ones who arrested them. There wasn\u2019t a single policeman with them, they didn\u2019t have a marked patrol car, it was just that grey pickup.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAt least 80 people arrested under El Salvador\u2019s state of exception have died in prison, without having been convicted of a crime, and without the authorities providing any explanation for their deaths. The only explanation available is limited to the patterns suggested by the autopsies: \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202208\/el_salvador\/26351\/Two-Months-after-Wrongful-Arrest-Don-Paco-Returned-Home-in-a-Casket.htm\"\u003Emultiple deaths are still \u201cunder study,\u201d\u003C\/a\u003E but many of the corpses showed signs of \u201cpulmonary edema,\u201d a condition that can occur, for example, when a person is strangled. On November 17 and 18, the U.N. Committee against Torture requested an explanation from the Salvadoran government regarding numerous reports of torture in prisons. The Bukele administration has \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/diario.elmundo.sv\/politica\/como-respondio-el-salvador-a-las-preguntas-del-comite-contra-la-tortura-de-la-onu\"\u003Edenied the accusations, stating that torture is not part of official prison policy.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cWe kept asking the police to tell us where the boys were, and they just said they didn\u2019t know anything about it. They told me, \u2018Look, calm down, give me your number, and if they bring them here, I\u2019ll give you a call. Now go home and go back to bed,\u2019\u201d Jeyli remembers them telling her. \u201cWell,\u201d she responded, \u201cwe\u2019re going to wait for them, no matter what time it is, and you\u2019d better call the soldiers and do something to help us.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThen, other parents and family members started arriving to the police station, and Jeyli realized that there were more people missing, not just her brother.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38445 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"The National Civil Police station in El Zamor\u00e1n, Jiquilisco, remodeled in January 2021. El Zamor\u00e1n is the headquarters for the police units responsible for patrolling a large part of the Bajo Lempa, a region in the department of Usulut\u00e1n repopulated by former combatants after the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992.\u00a0Photo: 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 The National Civil Police station in El Zamor\u00e1n, Jiquilisco, remodeled in January 2021. El Zamor\u00e1n is the headquarters for the police units responsible for patrolling a large part of the Bajo Lempa, a region in the department of Usulut\u00e1n repopulated by former combatants after the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETortured in an abandoned house\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAround 11 p.m., with all eight boys in the back of the pickup, the soldiers drove to a property located in the nearby community of San Juan del Gozo, near Jiquilisco Bay, about an eight-minute drive from Amando L\u00f3pez. The property, according to the four victims who spoke with El Faro, was a walled-in courtyard with a partially collapsed, rubble-filled building, with no roof, windows or front wall. The boys described the place as feeling \u201cvery dark.\u201d There was also a more intact adjoining building, with a door and windows, illuminated by a single lightbulb.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cWhen we got there, I felt my foot slip. I couldn\u2019t feel it at all, and I fell,\u201d says Emerson. \u201cThe place stank, like blood or dead animals,\u201d Daniel remembers. \u201cThey lined us up facing a wall, shining their light on us and messing with us, saying things like, \u2018Ooh, wow, look at these little girls standing like that, they can barely stay awake. Hey you little shits, don\u2019t you dare fall asleep!\u2019 And they kept yelling at us to not fall asleep, telling us to make \u2018el candado,\u2019 and so we started embracing each other like that,\u2019 Daniel says. To form \u201cel candado,\u201d or \u201cthe padlock,\u201d the boys lined up shoulder to shoulder, then put their arms over the shoulders of the person next to them. \u201cAnd then they told us to do 100 push-ups, but when we went down, they made us stay like that, on the ground, for a long time until suddenly they\u2019d say, \u2018go! up!,' and then we would push up, but they\u2019d immediately yell at us to drop down. So we did about 30 push-ups like that, but then they told us we hadn\u2019t done any, and made us start over,\u201d Daniel says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThere is little consensus among the boys as to how long they were there. Some of the victims said it was an hour; others said it was closer to three. \u201cThey jammed their rifles into our backs and against our heads, then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they\u2019d kick our ankles with their boots. And they kept us with our hands on the back of our necks for so long, it was impossible to endure.\u201d A soldier shined his light on Adonay\u2019s back, then kicked him. \u201cLook at the ass on this little shit!\u201d the soldier said. \u201cThey almost broke my tailbone,\u201d Adonay says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38444 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"A Marine infantry outpost in San Juan del Gozo, Bajo Lempa. Victim testimonies have identified this military base, about an eight-minute drive from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez, as the site of the alleged torture. 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 A Marine infantry outpost in San Juan del Gozo, Bajo Lempa. Victim testimonies have identified this military base, about an eight-minute drive from the community of Amando L\u00f3pez, as the site of the alleged torture. 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\u003EThe soldiers accused the boys of being gang members. \u201cThey came up to us one by one, telling us we were gang members, that we were with MS-13 or Barrio 18. They told us that they already knew who we were, and I mean, obviously they did know who we were, since they\u2019d detained us a bunch of times before,\u201d Emerson said, referring to the harassment the boys had experienced the weeks before.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ETwo of the teenagers remember hearing the soldiers receive a call from the El Zamor\u00e1n police. \u201cAnd then they took us there, to the police station. Who knows how long we would have stayed in that place. On our way, there was a soldier riding behind me and he hit me five times right here,\u201d Daniel says, pointing to the back of his head. \u201cWhen we drove over the speed bump as we passed by the field here, he grabbed my hair and pulled it and when he let go, he hit me in the head.\u201d Daniel remembers arriving at El Zamor\u00e1n with a headache.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn San Juan del Gozo, there is an abandoned house that matches the boys\u2019 description of the place they say the soldiers tortured them. The site serves as the base for a marine infantry patrol that operates in the area. At the entrance is a sign indicating that, years ago, the house was used for a project sponsored by Spain\u2019s international development agency. When El Faro visited the site on November 9, four days had passed since the boys had been detained. It was mid-morning, and two soldiers, rifles in hand, were sitting at a wooden table under a tree, scrolling through their phones. Another soldier was standing at the entrance, with several structures visible inside the facility behind him.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EOne of the infantrymen addressed El Faro:\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Good morning, is there something we can help you with?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Hi, good morning. I\u2019m a journalist, and we\u2019re here because it\u2019s our understanding that this is where the boys from Amando L\u00f3pez were taken on Saturday night.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014No, we\u2019ve been here since Friday and we haven\u2019t seen anything. Whoever told you that needs to check their facts.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014The news reports all said they were brought to San Juan del Gozo, and from the description they gave us, and from the photos, we\u2019re pretty sure this is the place.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Well, you can\u2019t trust everything you hear on the news. Why do you think this is the place?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Because of the color of the walls. And there\u2019s a wall missing, there\u2019s no roof, and there\u2019s no other place in San Juan del Gozo that looks like this. According to the testimonies we have, the boys were taken here and tortured, were forced to do pushups at night, and some of them were beaten.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Like I said, we\u2019ve been here since Friday and if anything happened, we would have seen it.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Are you with the marine infantry?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Yes.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014And where are you normally posted?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014We go where they tell us to. Last night we had to walk through water. Look, my boots are drying over there.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014And what division or unit sent you?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014The command.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014What command?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014I can\u2019t say.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014Can we take a picture of this place?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014No, because it\u2019s a military base. If you take a picture from the street, I am obligated to ask you why you\u2019re taking a picture. You can\u2019t take a picture, even from the outside.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014How can we go about getting permission to take a picture?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u2014You\u2019ll have to talk to the Ministry of Defense.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38438 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Daniel, 16, holds one of the wooden rifles that he and his classmates used as props during a play they performed on October 30, as part of the community\u2019s celebrations for D\u00eda de la Resistencia, or Resistance Day. In the play, which depicted chapters from Salvador history, the boys played government soldiers who were wounded in combat and fell to the guerrilla forces of the FMLN. Over the following days, Daniel and seven other teenage boys who had acted in the play faced harassment at the hands of soldiers, ultimately ending in their detention and torture at a nearby military base.\u00a0Photo: 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 Daniel, 16, holds one of the wooden rifles that he and his classmates used as props during a play they performed on October 30, as part of the community\u2019s celebrations for D\u00eda de la Resistencia, or Resistance Day. In the play, which depicted chapters from Salvador history, the boys played government soldiers who were wounded in combat and fell to the guerrilla forces of the FMLN. Over the following days, Daniel and seven other teenage boys who had acted in the play faced harassment at the hands of soldiers, ultimately ending in their detention and torture at a nearby military base.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003EThat same day, on November 9, El Faro visited the El Zamor\u00e1n police station to request their version of events. The officer on duty, ONI 17482, told us that they were prohibited from speaking to the press, and that to request a statement we would have to contact the municipal police department in Jiquilisco. El Faro visited the station in Jiquilisco and the officer on duty, Inspector Cecilio Cruz, told us over the phone that he was away from the precinct running errands. Cruz explained that in order to comment he had to receive authorization from the head office of the National Civil Police.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EOthers in the Army\u2019s crosshairs\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ECristian Leonardo, 18, and Jos\u00e9 \u00d3liver Gonz\u00e1lez, 26, two friends who live in Amando L\u00f3pez, were working together as welders in recent months. In the days leading up to the raids, they were detained by soldiers. On October 26, ten days before the arrests of the eight boys, while Cristian and \u00d3liver were returning home at about 4 p.m., they were stopped and questioned near the entrance to the community. \u201cThey told me to put my hands up, and that they were going to search me,\u201d \u00d3liver remembers. \u201cThey were making fun of me, saying, \u2018why is your hair like that.\u2019 I told them that\u2019s just how I like to wear it, and they said it wasn\u2019t a proper haircut, that I looked like a little girl. And I just remember thinking, \u2018These idiots are so mean,\u2019 and I told them, \u2018You know, girls aren\u2019t the only ones with hair that grows,\u2019 [\u2026] and that\u2019s when they told me they were going to cut it. And when I saw that big guy, who I\u2019d seen beat other kids and kick them in the feet, and who was asking Cristian why he had a tattoo, I decided it was best not to say anything back.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ECristian was raised an orphan. His mother, who owned a small store in the community, was killed by the gangs when he was very young, and his father had migrated to the United States. He was taken in by some distant relatives, but soon decided to make it on his own. \u201cHe started getting into tattoos,\u201d Oliver says. \u201cHe got a yin-and-yang, and then when his daughter was born, he got one with her first initial, her mother\u2019s initial, and his... Carla, Carina and Cristian. He also had a tattoo of his daughter\u2019s baby feet, and her mother\u2019s other name, Amparo.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIt\u2019s not that tattoos are unheard of in Amando L\u00f3pez \u2014a community where the average wage is about six dollars a day, and people live mainly off the crops they grow in the fields\u2014 but they are not very common. The soldiers, infantry marines with the Puerto del Triunfo Navy, in Jiquilisco, were suspicious of the two boys. \u00d3liver, with his long hair; Cristian, with his tattoos.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38441 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Emerson, 16, is one of eight teenagers from Amando L\u00f3pez who were arbitrarily detained by soldiers on November 5. He is a student, and plays on the local soccer team. He lives with his mother, brother, and cousins.\u00a0Photo: 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 Emerson, 16, is one of eight teenagers from Amando L\u00f3pez who were arbitrarily detained by soldiers on November 5. He is a student, and plays on the local soccer team. He lives with his mother, brother, and cousins.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003E\u201cThen they started telling me I didn\u2019t love my son, asking if I wanted to go to prison,\u201d \u00d3liver says. \u201cI told them no, that I knew things were bad, and that\u2019s why I was careful not to do anything wrong. Then they started making fun of my hair, saying, \u2018if you\u2019re not a little bitch, then why do you have hair like that...\u201d The soldiers scrolled through the photos and messages on his phone. They didn\u2019t find anything. And then, a soldier who had been in a small store nearby, playing arcades, came out and approached them.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cWhat\u2019s going on here?\u201d the soldier asked.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cThey looked suspicious. Look at this one\u2019s hair. We already told him he needs to get it cut,\u201d said one of the soldiers who was making the boys stand with their hands behind their heads.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cThis little son-of-a-bitch isn\u2019t going to get it cut,\u201d said the soldier who had emerged from the store.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThen he unsheathed a large knife and started hacking at \u00d3liver\u2019s hair, according to the victim\u2019s account. \u201cI just felt him pulling at it, and then he was sawing at it and then he threw my hair down on the ground in front of me.\u201d \u00d3liver says that he had already been thinking about getting it cut, that he had been talking about it with his partner. \u201cBut the soldiers got to it first. If I had cut my hair, I was going to keep it. But since they cut off like that, in that horrible way, I just said \u2018screw it,\u2019 and stood there staring at it and then just left it there in the dirt.\u201d Then the soldier told him, \u201cIt doesn\u2019t cost anything to look respectable. You need to go get yourself a proper haircut, or are you a woman?\u201d \u00d3liver says he thought about telling the soldier that he had a right to have long hair, but stopped himself.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u00d3liver spoke with El Faro while he worked installing a roof on a neighbor\u2019s house. If the raids had not occurred, perhaps Cristian would have been working with him that day, recounting the humiliations he suffered at the hands of the soldiers. The two usually worked together. But Cristian is gone now. He fled the community because on the night of the raids the soldiers had been asked around for him. He fled because \u201cif they catch me, who will come to get me out? I don\u2019t have anyone; no one is going to go around asking for me like they did for the other boys,\u201d he told \u00d3liver before her left. Cristian asked to be paid for the week\u2019s work and, with those 50 dollars in his pocket, he left the place where he had lived his entire life.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EWith Cristian gone, \u00d3liver hired another helper. Now he works with Daniel Alexander Vigil, a tall 20-year-old who is apprenticing with \u00d3liver as a welder. On the night of the arrests, the soldiers came to Daniel Alexander\u2019s house, looking for his nephews who live with him. They beat on his front door so hard they broke it. \u201cI grew up with all of them,\u201d Daniel Alexander says, referring to his nephews. \u201cNow we live together. There are about 16 of us in total. I didn\u2019t know my father, and my mother died when I was one or two years old, of cancer. We grew up with some relatives, but then they sent us to a children\u2019s home in San Vicente. Then we were moved to a children\u2019s village for a while, until relatives came for us, and that\u2019s how we ended up here.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38439 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"In the homes of the adolescents arrested in Bajo Lempa, adults are hard to come by. The majority of the family members are small children, who spend their days in their tin-shack homes and playing in the trees outside.\u00a0Photo: 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 In the homes of the adolescents arrested in Bajo Lempa, adults are hard to come by. The majority of the family members are small children, who spend their days in their tin-shack homes and playing in the trees outside.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003EDaniel Alexander is one of the few adults in the family who can bring home an income. Ricardo, Carlitos, Roberto, Marlon, Daniel, Adonay, Edwin, and Emerson used to work in the fields, for six dollars a day, but now they are too afraid to go to work. And their families are afraid for them, too. They are afraid that the soldiers will return, that they will be taken away and tortured. The father of Emerson and Adonay, who are brothers, is 33-year-old Santos Vigil. He can no longer support his family either, because he was detained under the state of exception and accused of being a gang collaborator. By November he had spent six months in the infamous prison known as Mariona.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe fear is palpable here. Jeyli says she is afraid the soldiers will return. Emerson, Adonay and Daniel say they often have nightmares, and that they get scared when they see unfamiliar trucks, like the one the soldiers used to take them away.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cThe soldiers told us to have a good night\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAt around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday night, the soldiers brought the boys to the El Zamor\u00e1n police station. \u201cAt least they aren\u2019t dead,\u201d Jeyli, Jos\u00e9 Ricardo\u2019s sister, remembers thinking. The boys were taken into the station quickly, stumbling, tired, sore, and humiliated. They were forced to wait in the hallway, standing with their hands behind their necks \u2014 the soldiers would not let them sit down or lower their arms, and the boys were kept waiting like this for hours, with no food. \u201cI couldn\u2019t move my fingers,\u201d Jos\u00e9 Daniel says. \u201cWe were so thirsty, and the only water they gave us was from the sink basin and we had to drink it with everything, with little fish in it and everything,\u201d he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ESome of the older boys said they overheard the soldiers and policemen arguing in the hallway. \u201cYou could tell they were being all buddy-buddy, because they were giving each other shit, but at one point the cop said, \u2018Why did you even take these kids? And without any evidence? Even I could have taken these photos you gave me.\u2019 At that point, the cops started getting angry. The soldier in charge didn\u2019t say anything. We just saw them write something on some pieces of paper and hand them to the police.\u201d A story published in GatoEncerrado on November 9 \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/gatoencerrado.news\/2022\/11\/09\/militares-mintieron-para-justificar-la-captura-de-ocho-adolescentes-en-el-bajo-lempa\/\"\u003Ereported\u003C\/a\u003E that the soldiers had lied to the police when they transferred custody of the boys, telling them they had encountered the \u201cgroup of subjects\u201d on the street and then \u201cneutralized\u201d them after they had tried to run away.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=38440 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"The Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar, the school complex where students spent weeks rehearsing a play titled \u201cRese\u00f1a Hist\u00f3rica de El Salvador,\u201d which reenacted moments from the country\u2019s Civil War, such as the assassination of Monsignor Romero, the signing of the Peace Accords, and post-war life in the community of Amando L\u00f3pez. Many believe that the public performance of the play, on October 30, angered a group of soldiers that had already been harassing young men in the community.\u00a0Photo: 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 The Centro Escolar Caser\u00edo Lempamar, the school complex where students spent weeks rehearsing a play titled \u201cRese\u00f1a Hist\u00f3rica de El Salvador,\u201d which reenacted moments from the country\u2019s Civil War, such as the assassination of Monsignor Romero, the signing of the Peace Accords, and post-war life in the community of Amando L\u00f3pez. Many believe that the public performance of the play, on October 30, angered a group of soldiers that had already been harassing young men in the community.\u00a0Photo: 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\u003ESometime between 4 and 5 a.m., a policeman that the boys described as fat and bald approached the group and told them to lower their arms, that they could rest for a while. A few hours later, the officers allowed the boys to eat some bread and drink some juice that their relatives had brought them. Around 10 a.m., they were taken to the police station in Jiquilisco.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe police used a red, extended-cab pickup truck with private plates that community members said they had often seen parked at the El Zamor\u00e1n police station. Locals say they have seen this same vehicle patrolling the streets of Jiquilisco several times in the past year, but unlike the truck used by soldiers on November 5, the red one is always being driven by police. On Sunday, November 6, police took the boys to the prosecutor\u2019s office, to some holding cells at the Centro de Gobierno, and to Medicina Lega, the coroner\u2019s office, where they underwent medical check-ups without explanation. All day long, the boys were carted from place to place and subjected to procedures they still cannot explain.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cOn one of the stops, they took us to some kind of medical place and put us in a small room, and then a man just said, \u2018take off your shorts and boxers,\u2019 and I didn\u2019t understand why. I did it, but since there were people looking in at us from the outside, I pulled them back up right away,\u201d one of the boys recalled. \u201cHe didn\u2019t say he was a doctor. He just said he wanted to examine us.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAs they exited Medicina Legal at about 6 p.m. on Sunday, they were all handcuffed. Jeyli, who witnessed that moment, says she was no longer so worried: \u201cA policeman had approached me and told me discreetly that he knew the boys were going to be released, and I was so happy. You can\u2019t imagine the relief I felt.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe Attorney General\u2019s Office gave the order to release the young men that night. The soldiers offered to take them home, but they all refused, choosing instead to ride in the back of a truck their families had borrowed. On their way home, it started pouring rain and the boys got completely soaked. \u201cThat\u2019s how we all got back. We were so cold, but it was worth it,\u201d Emerson says. The soldiers were in a vehicle behind them, escorting them to Amando L\u00f3pez. \u201cWe came straight to the house and they followed us all the way there. When we got home, they just said, \u2018Have a lovely night.\u2019 The soldiers told us to have good night.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp align=\"right\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003E*Translated by Max Granger\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}