Weather Alert

U.S. Treasury: El Salvador government negotiated with gangs

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The government of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele secretly negotiated a truce with leaders of the country’s powerful street gangs, the U.S. Treasury announced Wednesday.

The explosive accusation cuts to the heart of one of Bukele’s most highly touted successes in office: a plunge in the country’s murder rate.

Bukele’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Bukele vehemently denied the accusation when it was reported in August 2020 by the local news site El Faro.

The U.S. Treasury announcement came as it designated two officials from Bukele’s government for financial sanctions.

In 2020, Bukele’s administration ‘’provided financial incentives to Salvadoran gangs MS-13 and 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18) to ensure that incidents of gang violence and the number of confirmed homicides remained low,” the Treasury statement said. “Over the course of these negotiations with Luna and Marroquin, gang leadership also agreed to provide political support to the Nuevas Ideas political party in upcoming elections.”

Bukele’s New Ideas party won legislative elections earlier this year in a landslide, giving it control of El Salvador’s congress.

The two officials who negotiated directly with the gang leaders were Osiris Luna Meza, chief of the Salvadoran Penal System and Vice Minister of Justice and Public Security, and Carlos Amilcar Marroquin Chica, chairman of the Social Fabric Reconstruction Unit.

The announcement comes as a number of former officials from previous administrations are being prosecuted for negotiating a similar pact with the gangs.

Former Attorney General Raul Melara said he would investigate the El Faro report at the time, but when Bukele’s party took over congress, the new lawmakers ousted Melara and replaced him with someone friendly with Bukele.



Connect With Us Listen To Us On