El Salvador's president has threatened to stop providing food for imprisoned members of street gangs.
President Nayib Bukele said on Tuesday that if the gangs "unleash a wave of crimes, we are going to cut off food in the prisons." Following a wave of homicides in late March, Bukele has already declared a state of emergency, rounded up thousands of street gang members Bukele also ordered food for gang members held in Salvadoran prisons to be reduced to two meals per day, seized inmates' mattresses and posted a video of prisoners being frog-marched through corridors and down stairs.
“There are rumors that they [gang members] want to start taking revenge on random, honest people,” Bukele said. “If they do that, there won’t even be one meal in prisons. I swear to God they won’t eat a grain of rice, and let’s see how long they last.”
“They should stay calm and let themselves be arrested; at least on the inside they will continue to live and have two meals a day,” Bukele said in a translation reported on by the Associated Press.
“I don’t care what the international organizations say. Let them come here and protect our people,” the president said. “They can take their gang members if they want; we’ll give them all of them.”
United Nations Human Rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said on Tuesday, “We are deeply concerned by the series of measures recently introduced in El Salvador in response to the rise in gang killings.”