Bloomberg — El Salvador is building a giant prison with space for 40,000 gang members, President Nayib Bukele said Thursday.
The so-called Terrorism Confinement Center will be ready within 60 days, Bukele said in a post on Twitter, accompanied by a video of construction work at the site.
El Salvador declared a 30-day state of emergency in March, granting the government special powers by loosening arrest rules following a spate of killings by gangs. Congress this week extended it for a fourth time, for an additional 30 days.
More than 46,000 alleged gang members have been detained since it began. The gangs engage in extortion and drug trafficking, and their frequent turf wars have made El Salvador one of the world’s most violent countries.
A poll by Cid Gallup in April showed that 91% of those surveyed supported Bukele’s crackdown on the gangs, though human rights groups have criticized the lack of due process and deaths in custody.
“If you’re a shop owner who gets extorted by gangs, you may see this and say, well, good,” said Adam Isacson, of the Washington Office on Latin America, which studies human rights in Latin America. “But if you’re anyone who holds opinions, beliefs, or identities that Nayib Bukele doesn’t like, this video must terrify you.”