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El Salvador - the largest prison in the Americas

  • More than 40,000 gang members (pandilleros), which the state refers to as terrorists, are locked up in this enormous prison, in inhumane, caged conditions.

    One could argue that they got what they deserved and many Argentine commentators wish that a similar system was introduced here because many criminals are treated too leniently by the courts. I can't disagree with that point of view because criminals in this country appear to get away with their crimes time after time.

    But the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, declared a state of emergency last year which gives him emergency powers over and above parliament and the constitution. This means that many innocent people are rounded up and thrown into jail with zero defence.

    El Salvador reels as 6,000 people arrested in unprecedented crackdown
    Authoritarian populist president Nayib Bukele has suspended rights in state of emergency justified as attack on MS13 gang

    Barrio 18
    The 18th Street Gang, also known as "Barrio 18," is one of the largest youth gangs in the Western Hemisphere. Like its better known rival, the Mara Salvatrucha…

  • The number of prisoners with tattoos is indeed staggering, as is the preponderance of extremely disfiguring tattoos. Perhaps these prisoners, with little hope of ever re-entering society, take some pleasure out of being the most imprinted, scariest dudes in the yard?

    It was perhaps from prisons that the “full sleeve” emerged and gained popularity in the 1970’s. In the 2020’s, perhaps the face tattoo?