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President of El Salvador Touts Success of Gang Crackdown - But Fact-Check Shows He's Not There Yet

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After the president of El Salvador touted the success of his crackdown on gangs in reducing murders in the nation, a Twitter fact-check revealed that he still has work to do.

On Wednesday, President Nayib Bukele claimed that El Salvador had gone 365 days without a homicide.

“We closed on May 10, 2023, with 0 homicides nationwide. With this, it’s 365 days without homicides, a full year,” he tweeted.

However, a community note was added to Bukele’s tweet that undercut his claim.

The note pointed to police data showing that El Salvador has seen 0.4 murders per day so far this year. Moreover, the country has gone only 95 days without a homicide — still an impressive number, but not the almost unbelievable 365.

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The 0.4 daily murder rate is an 85 percent reduction from the same period in 2022, which was already the safest year in El Salvador’s history, according to the website that shared the data.

A video that accompanied Bukele’s tweet noted that before his gang crackdown, El Salvador was “the most violent country in the world.”

“In 2015 alone, the gangs killed over 6,000 Salvadorans,” the narrator continued. “We had averages of 30 homicides per day.”

But today, the narrator said, El Salvador is “undisputedly the safest country in Latin America.”

El Salvador’s murder rate was cut in half in 2022 after Bukele launched the anti-crime campaign, according to Reuters. Over 60,000 suspected gang members were arrested by January of this year.

The campaign has included programs in which convicted gang members are put to work destroying tombstones bearing gang-related symbols in Salvadoran cemeteries.

Bukele has also opened high-security prisons to detain the country’s most violent gangsters.

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A February video showed rows upon rows of inmates bearing MS-13 gang tattoos being shuffled into the new Center for the Confinement of Terrorism.

“This will be their new house, where they will live for decades, mixed up, unable to do any more harm to the population,” Bukele said of the new facility.

Even Bukele’s critics — who worry about the impact of the campaign on gang members’ civil liberties — admit that the crackdown has stifled the epidemic of violence El Salvador was once known for, according to The New York Times.

“Before, it was the gangsters that were in charge,” one small business owner said, according to the Times. “Now, there are almost no gang members.”

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