The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, dominated by the ruling party, extended on Wednesday for the ninth time the emergency regime for a month to maintain a “war” that the president, Nayib Bukele, is waging against violent gangs and that totals more than 60,000 detainees.
The measure extends “the regime of exception (…) for the continuity of the reestablishment of order and citizen security and territorial control”, according to the text which was approved by 67 votes in favor in the unicameral congress of 84 seats.
The president of the Congress, Ernesto Castro, said that the extension is “for the term of 30 days as from December 18” until January 16.
The emergency regime, which is questioned by humanitarian organizations, allows arrests without warrants, and was instituted in response to an escalation of homicides which claimed the lives of 87 people from March 25 to 27.
According to the approved decree “criminal organizations and their members maintain their threat”.
“The results of the emergency regime are undeniable and we have seen it in the territory. With this new extension, we are taking care of the lives of Salvadorans”, said the pro-government congressman, Walter Alemán.
The opposition deputy of the Vamos party, Claudia Ortiz, assured that “bringing justice and defending the victims of violence is much more than having the jails full”.
As of Monday, according to Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado, 60,218 alleged gang members had been detained.
Before March, there were 16,000 gang members in El Salvador’s jails.
In the nearly nine months of the exception regime, according to the Ministry of Justice and Security, the police and army have seized 1,980 firearms, 2,448 vehicles, 14,230 cell phones and $1.4 million in cash.
A poll by the newspaper La Prensa Grafica revealed on Monday that 87.8% of Salvadorans approve of the president’s administration, and highlighted that the “popularity spike” is for the work on security.