Suspected gang members are detained in Soyapango, near San Salvador Suspected gang members are detained in Soyapango, near San Salvador 

Cardinal Rosa Chavez: ' A delicate situation in El Salvador'

As the people of El Salvador continue to live under a ‘state of emergency’, in place because of a spike in gang violence, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez says the situation in his country is ‘very delicate’ since dialogue is non-existent.

By Devin Watkins

President Nayib Bukele declared a “state of emergency” across El Salvador on 27 March, amid a wave of murders allegedly committed by gangs.

The government said the move would help address the gang violence. Now, 5 months later, the state of emergency is still in place.

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, say the temporary suspension of some constitutional rights threatens the liberty and due process of Salvadoreans.

‘Dialogue needed to find peace’

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, spoke to Vatican News’ Patricia Ynestroza on the sidelines of the Consistory in the Vatican.

He said El Salvador is going through “a very confused, delicate situation” due to the state of emergency.

“There is no dialogue at this time in the country. It is very serious, because walls abound and there are no bridges.”

The Salvadorean Cardinal added that there can be no true peace if dialogue is lacking.

Everyone, said Cardinal Rosa Chavez, must be heard. “Each person can contribute from their own perspective, and we all desire to build up our homeland.”

The Cardinal also noted that Pope Francis is urging the Church to return to its mission of witness, even “until the pouring out of blood.”

“The Pope presents a Church of martyrdom; this is the Church of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Martyrdom is a characteristic of the Church, and we hold a mission of martyrdom, wherever we are.”

‘War against gangs’

Various rights organizations say government authorities have detained 50,000 alleged gang members and people linked to them since March.

President Bukele has called the crackdown a “war against gangs” aimed at reducing violence.

The Universitarian Observatory of Human Rights—run by the Jesuit University of Central America—has released a report warning about cases of torture allegedly committed by Salvadorean security forces, along with concerns about arbitrary detentions.

On Friday, 26 August, the Institute of Legal Medicine, a government body, acknowledged the deaths in prison of 73 people who were arrested as part of the state of emergency.

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29 August 2022, 13:10