Representation image: cemetery
Hit On Baby Ordered By Imprisoned Gang Member Image by ju-dit from Pixabay

El Salvador’s government expanded its efforts against the country’s powerful street gangs by sending detainees into cemeteries to eradicate the graves of gang members. Armed with sledgehammers and pry bars, inmates smashed tombs marked with “MS,” of the Mara Salvatrucha gang Tuesday in a San Salvador suburb. This is at a time of the year when families normally visit their loved ones’ tombs.

Santa Tecla Mayor Henry Flores said the detainees already destroyed almost 80 gravestones in the municipal cemetery and erased gang-related graffiti. He added that the plan is that there will be no graffiti to make people feel secure. The country has been in a bad state since late March.

AP News reported that President Nayib Bukele has requested and received special powers to suspend some constitutional rights. This is after gangs slaughtered 62 people across the country in a single day. Since then, officers have arrested more than 56,000 individuals for apparent gang ties. Non-governmental organizations have documented several thousand human rights violations.

Authorities had already painted over or removed gang graffiti that was visible in the communities throughout El Salvador, Independent reported. It is stated that destroying gang members’ tombs was a new measure. It happened while Salvadorans visited cemeteries for the Day of the Dead.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gatherings in cemeteries have been limited until this year. This week, a lot of people visited gravesites while police and soldiers patrolled the area. Juan Escamilla, who brought flowers to a relative’s grave Wednesday said she was happy being able to visit relatives who had passed away. She added that it used to be common to see gang members inside the cemetery, and she felt that there was no danger in the cemetery when she visited.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Osiris Luna, the head of El Salvador’s prisons, said via Twitter that the inmates and police had destroyed gravestones of various gangs in cemeteries in Santa Tecla and Colón, about 15 miles west of the capital. Luna, who called gang members terrorists, argued they didn’t deserve any recognition, and that’s why they eliminated every trace of these groups. He said that gangs no longer have a place in El Salvador.

Highgate Cemetery
[Representational image] 20th June 1974: A stone angel guards a grave in Highgate Cemetery, north London. John Downing/Express/Getty Images

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