The world’s worst prison is now 10 per cent full after a second batch of 2000 gangsters arrived.
El Salvador president Nayib Bukele built the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism — which he claims is the largest mega-prison in the Americas — to house his country’s worst gang members.
He has proudly showcased images of inmates being herded like animals to the world, despite concerns from humanitarian groups.
The first 2000 inmates arrived late last month and were joined by 2000 more on Thursday.
“This day, in a new operation, we moved the second batch of 2000 gangsters to the Terrorism Contention Centre (CECOT),” President Bukele announced on his Facebook page. “With this, there are now 4000 gangsters inhabiting the world’s most criticised prison.”
Once again, the photos are shocking.
President Nayib Bukele’s “war” on crime is targeting members of the MS-13 and 18 gangs.
He has been posting videos showing barefoot, tattooed men wearing only white boxers, bent over and with their hands behind their shaven heads.
They are stacked closely together, each sitting with his legs on either side of the man in front of him as armed guards in balaclavas look on.
They are loaded onto buses, hands and feet in shackles, to be taken to the new prison in a convoy that included helicopters.
At the new facility, the men are similarly stacked up before being led in large groups into their cells, where they are left sitting on the floor before stacked metal beds with no mattresses visible.
“This will be their new house, where they will live for decades, all mixed, unable to do any further harm to the population,” Bukele says.
“We are eliminating this cancer from society,” justice and security minister Gustavo Villatoro adds.
“Know that you will never walk out of CECOT, you will pay for what you are … cowardly terrorists.”
Built on Bukele’s orders after he declared a “war” on gangs last March, the prison in Tecoluca, 74km southeast of the capital San Salvador, consists of eight buildings made of reinforced concrete.
Each one has 32 cells of about 100 square metres, designed to hold “more than 100” inmates, according to Public Works Minister Romeo Rodriguez.
Each cell has only two sinks and two toilets.
There are only 80 metal bunks for every 100 prisoners, and rights groups and observers have criticised the construction as a violation of incarceration standards.
“There will be no mattresses in the cells,” the prison warden — who wore a ski mask to protect his identity — told journalists when the project was unveiled.
While the prison is equipped with dining halls, exercise rooms and table tennis tables, they are exclusively for guards’ use.
Prisoners will leave the cell only for legal hearings by videoconference, or to be punished in a windowless and unlit isolation cell.
Some 63,000 presumed gang members have been rounded up since Bukele declared a state of emergency months ago, allowing arrests without warrants in the violence-plagued country.
Human rights groups have claimed people are being arrested simply for having tattoos, and prison administrators claim a population of 40,000 would be unmanageable.
— with AFP