President Nayib Bukele has sent inmates to cemeteries to destroy the graves of gang members, and he has done so on All Saints’ Day, the date on which relatives go to cemeteries to visit their dead. A decision that has taken Salvadorean citizens by surprise, accustomed to living between rituals around their deceased.

Armed with sledgehammers and crowbars, the inmates smashed graves marked with the “MS” symbol, belonging to the Mara Salvatrucha gang, in Santa Tecla, a San Salvador suburb that is a stronghold of that gang. They destroyed about 80 tombstones in the municipal cemetery and erased graffiti related to the gang.

El Salvador has been in a state of emergency since the end of March, when President Nayib Bukele declared war on street gangs that killed 62 people in one day.

Since then, more than 56,000 people have been arrested for suspected gang links.

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