El Salvador Reimposes Lockdown After Cases Spike

A locked-down street in rural El Salvador, overseen by the Virgin Mary. (Courthouse News photo/Miguel Patricio/)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CN) — Due to lack of cooperation by a small but significant part of the population and a corresponding jump in Covid-19 cases throughout El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has ordered the country to remain in a near total lockdown for 15 more days.

Buses and taxis have been taken off the roads the country. People are no longer allowed to move about between neighborhoods or towns and are allowed to shop only at the nearest market or pharmacy two days a week, according to the final digit of their national identification document.

The right-wing ARENA party voted in favor of the new initiative but now claims it didn’t vote for a complete transportation shutdown. Yet in exchange for their votes President Bukele agreed to a partial reopening of the economy after 15 days.

These measures come on the heels of another declaration of emergency in the 27 prisons packed with gang members convicted of felonies or in many cases awaiting trial. All gang members are confined to cells 24 hours a day. These measures were implemented after a bloodbath in which 75 people were gunned down on the streets in a period of four days.

Police say that five gang members who were recently released from prisons carried orders for a killing spree. This after a dramatic reduction in murders after Bukele was inaugurated in June 2019.

The harsh treatment of imprisoned gang members was widely criticized by human rights organizations, including Human Right Watch and Amnesty International, among others. In their denunciations the 75 dead were not mentioned.

With severe measures in the face of the Covid-19 catastrophe Bukele has been accused of behaving like a dictator, violating the civil rights of assembly and free movement of citizens and the right to decent treatment of imprisoned killers.

Courthouse News correspondent Miguel Patricio is based in El Salvador.

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