President blasts ‘human rights’ NGOs after police death

El Salvador’s president has vowed to “wipe out” criminal gangs no matter what Western human-rights activists say

President blasts ‘human rights’ NGOs after police death

El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele vowed to wipe out gangs no matter what the “international community” says

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador on Wednesday condemned Western nonprofits voicing concerns over his government’s crackdown on criminal gangs, after a police officer was killed in an ambush.

“Let all the ‘human rights’ NGOs know that we are going to wipe out these bloody murderers and their collaborators. We will put them in prison and they will never get out,” Bukele said on Twitter.

“We don't care about your sorrow-filled reports, your paid journalists, your puppet politicians, or your famous ‘international community’ that never cared about our people,” the president added. “We will heal our country and eliminate this plague completely. Take your failed prescriptions elsewhere.”

His comments came in the wake of an ambush on Tuesday in which one member of the National Police was killed by members of a criminal gang in Nueva Concepcion, a town in the northern province of Chalatenango.

Furious after the death of “one of our heroes,” Bukele called out the “human rights” crowd for saying nothing, because they only care about the rights of criminals. 

“This cowardly murder will not go unpunished. We will make them pay dearly for what they did,” he tweeted, vowing to continue the state of emergency until the plague of gangs is “completely eliminated.”

Just last week, Bukele had celebrated a full 365 days with zero homicides in El Salvador, a nation of 6.5 million on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The streak was not contiguous, but cumulative over the four years of his presidency – but was nonetheless considered a massive achievement, considering that in the 15 years before he took office in 2019, there had only been two murder-free days in the Central American country.

Due to the gang violence, as late as 2016 El Salvador was considered the world’s most violent country not actually at war. Bukele declared a state of emergency in March 2022, launching a war on “terrorist” criminal gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18. His government has jailed over 65,000 suspected gang members, most of whom are awaiting trial. Bukele also commissioned a maximum security mega-prison that can hold up to 40,000, with the intent of removing the most violent gang members from society for life.

Western governments and NGOs have criticized the crackdown as violating the human rights of suspected criminals and turning El Salvador into a “police state.”