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153 inmates died under ES state of exception
May 30, 2023
At least 153 people died in custody in the first year of El Salvador’s controversial state of exception, according to a new report by Cristosal. Of these 29 people died a violent death, and 46 others of “probable violent death” or “suspected criminality.”
The rights group said it had obtained photographs and mortuary reports showing bodies with signs of “asphyxiation, [bone] fractures, significant bruising, lacerations and even perforations”. Some appeared to have died of malnutrition. Some prisoners had been tortured with electric shocks, according to Cristosal.
None of those who died had been convicted of a crime they were accused of at the time of their arrest.
The report describes a nightmare scenario, and is based on interviews with hundreds of people who were detained for months and released after being declared innocent, and also relatives of inmates who died in prison. Cristosal also obtained forensic medical documents, police documents and photographs.
Cristosal’s director, Noah Bullock, said its findings highlighted how human rights violations were “a systematic practice rather than an exception” under El Salvador’s current government.
Asphyxiation — mechanical or by submersion — was a torture method used by El Salvador’s security forces during the country’s civil war. “It is very sad to see that the state has once again resorted to arbitrary detention and torture in the name of national security,” Bullock said.
More El Salvador
Most detainees under the state of exception are held without the right to communicate with anybody — including lawyers — and must be clothed and fed by their families while incarcerated. Protests by family members at the beginning of the state of exception, more than a year ago, have given way to organized delivery of goods to detainees, reports El Faro.
A Salvadoran judge sentenced former President Mauricio Funes to 14 years in prison, in ausencia, for negotiating with gangs during his administration. Funes’ former Security Minister Gen. David Munguía Payes was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the negotiations. (Associated Press, Reuters)
South America Summit in Brazil
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is hosting a “retreat” for South American heads of state in Brasília, starting today. All South American presidents, except Peru’s, will discuss the launch of a cooperation bloc in place of the defunct UNASUR, as well as ways to coordinate on fighting climate change and high inflation, reports Reuters.
t is the first such summit in nine years. Some analysts say Lula is testing opportunities for integration, particularly given ideological affinities among many of the region’s governments, reports the Associated Press.
“While groundbreaking visions for the future of South America or announcements to promote regional integration are unlikely to emerge, even a basic dialogue between heads of state is genuine progress,” writes Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly.
Lula met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro yesterday, ahead of the summit in Brasília. They criticized U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Maduro said he hopes the regional South American summit will call for their removal. (Reuters)
"We are living a historic moment ... it's hard to believe so many years went by with no dialogue with a neighbor with whom we share the Amazon region," Lula said at a joint press conference. Lula criticized the US for denying legitimacy to Maduro's socialist government. (Deutsche Welle)
More Regional Relations
Cuban immigrants living in Russia have joined the country’s military and will join troops fighting in Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill to grant citizenship to those who enlist, reports the Miami Herald.
In a separate announcement last week, Belarus Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation Valery Revenko said he discussed the training of Cuban military personnel in Belarus with Cuban officials, including Cuba’s military attaché in Russia and Belarus, Col. Mónica Milián Gómez. (Miami Herald)
“Total Peace,” the complete cessation of armed conflict in Colombia, is the only way to save the country’s Amazon, writes Fany Kuiru Castro, a Uitoto Indigenous leader. “Indigenous communities often reside in remote areas that are seen as advantageous” for criminal groups, putting Indigenous communities in crossfire. “When we try to stand up, we are threatened or killed,” she writes in Newsweek.
A new Global Witness report concerns over a landfill in rural Colombia and its health effects — Al Jazeera.
A fifteen-year-old girl was accused of intentionally starting a fire that killed 19 people in Guyana, last week. She was charged as an adult with 19 counts of murder. The doors to the boarding school dormitory that serves Indigenous communities were locked to prevent the female students from sneaking out to socialize, reports the New York Times.
Mexico's ruling Morena party is likely to win Mexico State’s governorship in a June 4 election. The state, one of the last major opposition strongholds, encompasses much of Mexico City's urban sprawl. (Reuters)
At least 220 people in the United States who were treated at two clinics in Matamoros this year could be at risk for fungal meningitis, and two people have died so far. Health authorities in the United States and Mexico have asked the World Health Organization to issue an emergency declaration in response to the outbreak. (New York Times)
A high-level Argentine delegation, headed by Economy Minister Sergio Massa, is in China — officials seek cooperation agreements around energy, exports, and potential investments and infrastructure works for Argentina. It will also look into strengthening Argentine monetary reserves with BRICS banks. (Buenos Aires Herald)
Recent measures announced by Argentina’s government are unlikely to tame the country’s runaway inflation, and are instead aimed at muddling through until October’s elections, in the midst of nearly depleted foreign currency reserves and with 40 percent of the country living in poverty. (Latin America Advisor)
Paraguayan prosecutors indicted Congressman Erico Galeano, of the governing Colorado Party, accused of money laundering and criminal association. The indictment shows a will on the part of authorities to tackle corruption at high levels of government. But continued popular support for political figures tied to corruption could hold back investigations, reports InSight Crime.