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總統府/Flickr @nayibbukele/Twitter (CC-BY-SA)

El Salvador’s mass incarceration movement sparks far-right lament U.S. isn’t putting more people in jail

They're thirsty for the U.S. to ramp up its already massive prison-industrial complex.


Claire Goforth


Posted on Feb 27, 2023   Updated on Feb 27, 2023, 4:10 pm CST

El Salvador is building a prison that’s purported to be the largest in the world upon completion. El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele unveiled the facility on Twitter earlier this month, which he says will house 40,000 inmates. The new prison, the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism (CECOT), is alarming advocates who are already disturbed by widespread reports of human rights abuses amid Bukele’s crackdown on alleged gang members.

But conservatives in the U.S. are loving it. Some of the same people who call incarcerated Capitol rioters political prisoners are celebrating the footage of shackled men clad in only shorts being led into a prison where they reportedly will not have mattresses, might be put in lightless isolation cells, and may never leave.

Justice and Public Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said the prison is designed to eliminate a “cancer” from society. “Know that you will never walk out of CECOT, you will pay for what you are … cowardly terrorists,” Villatoro tweeted.

Since last March, when Bukele suspended numerous constitutional protections, authorities have reportedly incarcerated 64,000 people suspected of gang affiliation. Human Rights Watch told Democracy Now this has led to “mass arbitrary detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, deaths in custody, and abuse-ridden prosecutions.”

On Twitter, President Bukele, who rose to international fame for making his nation the first to use Bitcoin as legal tender, called the massive prison a “work of common sense.”

But the American far-right—which is rife with latent fascist tendencies—couldn’t help but celebrate a massive incarceration push.

Roger Stone, who avoided prison time due to a presidential pardon, congratulated Bukele for “restoring SAFETY” and called him “a Patriot who puts the interests of El Salvador’s people FIRST.”

That posts were coming from U.S. citizens was ironic, given that the Prison Policy Initiative reports that America already “has the highest incarcerate rate of any country in the world.”

Laura Loomer, who has been arrested multiple times, called footage from inside the prison “thrilling.”

“Great work, @nayibbukele!” she added.

A Twitter user claughed at the potential human rights abuses. “bUt tHe HuMan RiGhTS V10laTiOnS,” they wrote.

Praise for Bukele poured in from right-wing internet personalities.

An Infowars host gushed reports that the murder rate has significantly decreased in El Salvador during Bukele’s term, “He’s showing that there is another way; he’s showing that you can actually fix problems.”

Bukele seems to be enjoying his time in the right-wing limelight.

He’s spent much of the last few days retweeting praise for himself from his official Twitter account.

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*First Published: Feb 27, 2023, 4:09 pm CST