Nayib Bukele: The “60 Minutes” interview
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has issued an order authorizing police and military to use “lethal force” against gang members in self-defense amid the coronavirus pandemic. After crime had plunged in March, Bukele made the announcement via his Twitter account on Sunday following a dramatic surge in murders over the weekend in the country.
Bukele ordered the measures after he said gangs are taking advantage of authorities focusing on the pandemic. “The police and armed forces must prioritize safeguarding their lives, those of their companions and of honest citizens. The use of lethal force is authorized in self-defense or in defense of the lives of Salvadorans,” Bukele said.
No vamos a dejar que los criminales se salgan con la suya. pic.twitter.com/rY6eQOAlU3— Casa Presidencial (@PresidenciaSV) April 27, 2020
Two dozen people were killed on Friday, then the highest single-day toll since Bukele took office last year, according to Reuters. On Sunday, El Salvador reported 29 more homicides, breaking the previous high under Bukele’s administration from two days earlier. A statement from Bukele’s office said gang members carried out the killings after receiving orders from other gang members in prisons. Bukele ordered a 24-hour lockdown at those prisons and put gang leaders in complete isolation. The Salvadorian government also put group rival gang members in shared cells.”We are going to make all those gang members who committed those murders to regret making that decision their entire lives,” tweeted Bukele, who gathered with the heads of his security forces on Monday. Earlier this month, Bukele announced El Salvador saw only 65 homicides in March – compared to months in years past where that tally would near 1,000. As the coronavirus crisis began to hit the Central American country, gangs reportedly took on the role of enforcing social distancing, scaring offenders with threats and bats. But the decline in crime appears to be short-lived.
El Salvador’s fight against the coronavirus has been more promising. On Monday, the Salvadorian government reported 323 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight COVID-19-related deaths, according to their data. The government has tested more than 20,000 people as of Monday.