Showing posts with label El Salvador. Show all posts
Showing posts with label El Salvador. Show all posts

May 2, 2020

Salvadoran President and Friend of Trump, Made Sure He Had Some Gays in 4 days Stretch Killing in El Salvador Before The Virus Hit There


 Latin leader accused of exploiting crisis

Salvadoran president took authoritarian actions before virus even hit, critics say.

INMATES in San Salvador are rounded up as part of a crackdown in prisons ordered by President Nayib Bukele after a four-day stretch of killings in El Salvador. ( El Salvador Presidency Press Office) 

By Patrick J. McDonnell and Alexander Renderos

SAN SALVADOR — Before El Salvador experienced a single case of coronavirus, President Nayib Bukele placed the country in lockdown, shuttering schools, banning large gatherings and sealing borders.

He then sent the army to cordon off towns accused of being in noncompliance and dismissed a Supreme Court ruling challenging his detention of thousands accused of violating stay-at-home orders.

“Just as I would not abide by a resolution ordering me to kill Salvadorans,” Bukele declared, “I also cannot abide by a resolution that orders me to let them die.”

Bukele says his swift response has saved lives: The country of 6.5 million reported 395 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10 deaths as of Thursday, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
But to his critics, Bukele’s moves represent the president’s latest efforts to consolidate his increasingly authoritarian rule, using the pandemic as a pretext to stifle dissent and rally support.

Earlier this year, Bukele, who won the presidency under the banner of a minor center-right party, sent troops to the congressional chamber in what opponents from both major political parties denounced as a pressure tactic for passage of a security funding bill.

In recent days, Bukele, a 38-year-old former mayor of San Salvador, has moved to burnish his tough-guy credentials, targeting a longtime nemesis — El Salvador’s infamous street gangs, known as maras , which he blamed for a surge in homicides. The president explicitly linked his gang crackdown to the coronavirus emergency.

“The maras are taking advantage of the fact that almost all of our public forces are [occupied] controlling the pandemic,” the president said in announcing a state of emergency.
Bukele essentially declared war on the country’s powerful gangs, including the infamous MS-13, approving use of lethal force against domestic “terrorists” and imposing a 24-hour lockdown for thousands of imprisoned gang members.

In the midst of a global pandemic, El Salvador’s latest anti-gang crackdown might have hardly registered beyond the region if not for a cinematic touch — the president’s release of a series of stunning photos of hundreds of jailed, half-naked gang members, huddled together like live cargo.

The heavily tattooed prisoners, garbed in boxer shorts, their shorn heads bowed, are pictured pressed together in precise formation only inches apart, as shotgun-wielding guards in full riot gear eye them ominously. Many inmates lack masks, whereas all the guards are wearing masks and face shields.
Bukele labeled the spectacle a punishment for the recent outbreak of violence — 77 killings in a four-day period, the bloodiest stretch since he took office June 1.

Previously, gang members had boasted of helping to enforce stay-at-home orders during the pandemic and of having delivered supplies to needy communities.

Other photos released on social media showed workers soldering cells shut with metal plates — a response, Bukele said, to gang members’ practice of communicating via hand signals through the openings in cell bars, probably ordering killings and other crimes outside. The inmates, vowed Osiris Luna Meza, Bukele’s chief of prisons, wouldn’t see “a ray of sun.”

Furthermore, Bukele said, the government would discontinue a longtime practice of housing rival gang members in separate cells, a step imposed to keep a measure of peace in the volatile lockups.

“All of the cells of gang members in our country will remain sealed,” the social media-savvy Bukele declared on Twitter, where he has 1.9 million followers. “They will no longer be able to see outside of the cell.… They will be inside, in total darkness, with their friends from the other gang.”
The images quickly went viral, blared across news media and internet sites worldwide, sparking global condemnation about the dehumanization of inmates.

Adding to the international outrage about the images was the clear disdain for social distancing measures — steps that Bukele previously championed as a means of thwarting the spread of the virus.
Throughout Latin America, long overcrowded lockups have erupted in violence in recent weeks as prisoners demand protective gear and other measures to shield them from the virus.

“ Given the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons in El Salvador, as elsewhere, are a potential epicenter for an outbreak, and the Bukele administration’s lockdown has exacerbated an already heightened risk,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

“President Bukele’s get-tough-on-crime discourse … is, ironically, putting more lives at risk of a potential contagion — inside and outside detention centers.”
A defiant Bukele appears to have relished the worldwide revulsion, accusing his critics of appeasing habitual lawbreakers.

“The international help that the maras get is incredible,” Bukele said Thursday on Twitter. “Organizations that don’t say anything when they tear apart Salvadorans shout to the sky because we take away their privileges.”

At home, Bukele has drawn high ratings, sometimes topping 80%, though experts say polling in El Salvador is of questionable accuracy. The many positive responses on social media bespeak considerable support for his take-no-prisoners public attitude toward gang members who exert de facto control of entire neighborhoods and towns.

Although El Salvador has long had one of the world’s highest homicide rates, those numbers have generally been on the decline since 2015. During his almost 11 months in office, Bukele has credited his security plan — based on bolstered police and military deployments— with further reducing violence.

What sparked the recent four-day increase in gang violence remains unclear. Some speculate that gang members, cash-strapped during the pandemic, may have been sending out a message to extortion victims to pay up back dues.

Others see darker motivations and possible behind-the-scenes maneuverings in a country still recuperating from a 12-year civil war that ended in 1992.

How the criminal groups will respond to Bukele’s actions remains a major question. The gangs have become deeply entrenched in society and have relatives in the police, military and government.
In a widely circulated video reply to the prison crackdown, masked members of one gang, Barrio 18 S ureño, complain bitterly of “human rights” violations against their imprisoned brothers and warn of dire circumstances.

“This is not the correct way to attack violence in the country,” one of the masked Barrio 18 Sureño members declares in the video. “On the contrary, these actions will end up converting the entire country into chaos.”

Bukele posted the Barrio 18 Sureño video on his Twitter account and said he was awaiting responses from the country’s other two major gangs: Barrio 18 and MS-13. The three gangs originated in Southern California.

“Stop killing immediately or those who will pay the consequences will be you and your homeboys,” the president warned.

Bukele’s actions, some worry, could indeed spur a broader conflict and a possible reemergence of the country’s darkest days of gang carnage.

Times staff writer McDonnell reported from Mexico City and special correspondent Renderos from San Salvador. Cecilia Sánchez in The Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

January 9, 2018

Trump Kicking Out 200,000 Families From El Salvador [with Protected Status]

(Leer en español)
I would like to show you this article from the New York Times with specifics about this group of protected status people. Most people don't know where El Salvador is. El Salvador is very close to us being next to Guatemala and Mexico. These are people you never hear about because they mind their business and concentrate on work and their families. They received protectd status, meaning they are here legaly. Someone must have told Trump we had Salvadorns living here legaly, no trump hotels there, its a poor country and the US can easiy afford he most have thought to kick them out like some others he doesn't like.

Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, two government officials familiar with the decision said on Monday. It is the Trump administration’s latest reversal of years of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date.
The officials, who declined to be identified because they were speaking before an official announcement on the decision later Monday morning, said that the administration was ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001.
Salvadorans were by far the largest group of foreigners benefiting from temporary protected status, which shielded them from deportation if they had arrived in the United States illegally. The decision came just weeks after more than 45,000 Haitians, the second largest group, lost protections granted after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and it suggested that others in the program, namely Hondurans, may soon lose them as well. Nicaraguans lost their protections last year.
In the days leading up to the decision, immigrant advocates and the El Salvadoran government pleaded for the United States to extend the program, as it has several times since 2001, saying that conditions in El Salvador were still dire. A sense of dread gripped Salvadorans and their employers in California, Texas, Virginia and elsewhere.
“We had hope that if we worked hard, paid our taxes and didn’t get in trouble we would be allowed to stay,” said Veronica Lagunas, 39, a Salvadoran who works overnight cleaning offices in Los Angeles, has two children born in the United States and owns a mobile home. But the Trump administration has been committed to reining in both legal and illegal immigration, most notably by ending protections for 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, beginning in March unless Congress grants them legal status before then.  

Status program had turned into a quasi-permanent benefit for hundreds of thousands of people.
The ending of protection for Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans leaves fewer than 100,000 people in the program, known as T.P.S., which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990.
It provides temporary lawful status and work authorization to people already in the United States, whether they entered legally or not, from countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster or other strife. The homeland security secretary decides when a country merits the designation and can renew it for six, 12 or 18 months.
There is no limit to the number of extensions a country can receive. Countries that have received and then lost the designation in the past include Bosnia and Herzegovina, which endured a civil war in the 1990s, and Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola crisis. El Salvador was one of the first countries in the program because of its civil war; that designation expired in 1994.
The administration’s decision forces Salvadorans in the program into a wrenching decision.
Ms. Lagunas said that she would remain in the United States illegally, risking arrest and deportation. But she would lose her job of 12 years without the work permit that comes with the protection. Her family would lose medical insurance and other benefits.
“There is nothing to go back to in El Salvador,” she said, speaking in Spanish. “The infrastructure may be better now, but the country is in no condition to receive us.”
With his protected status, Carlos Jiron, another Salvadoran, started a small contracting business and won bids for big jobs, including to paint federal buildings in the Washington area. “We have built a life here,” said Mr. Jiron, 41, who lives with his wife and two American-born children in a four-bedroom house they bought in Springfield, Va.
He will have to decide whether to take his children to El Salvador, where he says they would not maximize their potential and would face safety threats; leave them with guardians in the United States; or remain in the country at the risk of arrest and deportation as one of the millions of undocumented immigrants.
His 14-year-old daughter, Tania, a fan of Disney movies and hip-hop music, said she could not fathom starting over in El Salvador. “This is where I was born and am supposed to be raised,” she said. 
Temporary protections were granted to Salvadorans who were in the United States in March 2001 after two earthquakes in January and February of that year killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. Over the next 15 years, the George W. Bush and Obama administrations extended the protections several times.
In 2016, the final time, the government cited several factors, including drought, poverty and widespread gang violence in El Salvador, as reasons to keep the protections in place.
El Salvador has rebuilt since the earthquakes. But the violence — San Salvador, the capital, is considered one of the most dangerous cities on Earth — has inhibited investment and job creation, and prompted tens of thousands to flee. The country’s economy experienced the slowest growth of any in Central America in 2016, according to the World Bank.
But officials in the Trump administration say the only criteria the government should consider is whether the original reason for the designation — in this case, damage from the earthquakes — still exists. The homeland security secretary decided that enough of the damage had been repaired 17 years later, and so the protections should end, the officials familiar with the decision said.
Some lawmakers have introduced legislation to enable people with temporary protection to remain in the United States permanently. At the same time, instability in Venezuela has prompted some members of Congress from Florida to call for protected status for Venezuelans.
The government of El Salvador had asked the Trump administration to renew the designation for its citizens in the United States, citing drought and other factors. Money sent home from Salvadorans abroad is a lifeline for many in the country, where four out of 10 households subsist below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. In 2016, the $4.6 billion remitted from abroad, mostly from the United States, accounted for 17 percent of the country’s economy.
The United States Chamber of Commerce and immigrant advocacy organizations also had urged the administration to extend the protection.
Donald M. Kerwin Jr., executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, called rescinding protection for Salvadorans a “baffling ideological decision that is extraordinarily destructive on all ends. They are deeply vested and embedded in the U.S.”
In Houston, the elimination of protected status would aggravate a labor shortage already delaying repairs after Hurricane Harvey, said Stan Marek, the chief executive of Marek Brothers, a large construction company with offices across Texas and in Atlanta. At least 29 Salvadorans on his payroll are program recipients.
“During hurricane recovery, I especially need those men,” Mr. Marek said. “If they lose their status, I have to terminate them.”
But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restrictions on immigration, said the Trump administration was correctly abiding by the original intent of the program.
“We need to put the ‘T’ back into T.P.S.,” he said. “It has to be temporary. This has gone on far too long.”

Police officers search a group of men in a gang-ravaged neighborhood in San Salvador. While El Salvador has recovered from the earthquake damage, gang violence has prompted thousands to flee the country. CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times 

May 14, 2017

Crimes Against LGBT in El Salvador Must be Investigated(The UN)

An uptick in deadly violence against transgender women in El Salvador prompted the United Nations on Friday to call for an investigation into crimes against sexual minorities in the conservative Central American country. So far this year, seven transgender women have been killed in El Salvador, according to the Geneva-based Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Local LGBT organizations put the death toll at 17 through the first four months of the year.
In 2016, at least 25 transgender women were killed over the course of the entire year, according to the local organizations.
Karla Avelar, executive director of the Association for Communicating and Training Trans Women, poses for a picture at her office in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 12, 2017.
Karla Avelar, executive director of the Association for Communicating and Training Trans Women, poses for a picture at her office in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 12, 2017.
Activist threatened
Leading transgender activist Karla Avelar said local gang members have demanded money and made threats that forced her to flee her home six times in the past two years.Avelar, who leads a local trans-rights organization, said in an interview she has no faith that local authorities can protect her from gangs who routinely demand extortion payments from residents and businesses.
“Criminals operate within the same institutions of government. So how can you entrust your life to them? How can you entrust your security to these institutions?” Avelar said.Avelar, 40, is a finalist for the 2017 Martin Ennals Award, an international prize for human rights activists, but said the gang members have already sought to extort some of the future prize money if she wins.
“I won’t wait for them to kill me,” Avelar said. “And how am I going to give them something I don’t even have?” The Salvadoran activist declined to identify the names or gang affiliation of the men who threatened her, or where she now lives, for fear of retaliation.“We urge the government of El Salvador to take urgent measures to ensure the protection of Ms. Avelar and other (LGBT) activists and individuals who are under threat,” said OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, adding that authorities should investigate what she described as “hate crimes.”
The Salvadoran attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last year, El Salvador registered 81.7 homicides per 100,000 residents, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

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