Bukele sought the expanded powers after El Salvador’s street gangs killed dozens of people in late March. Two weeks into the mass detentions, the president acknowledged that there could be an “error” of 1% of those arrested not having any ties to the gangs. Even that seemingly small number suggests authorities are not making arrests based on investigations, critics say. His office declined to comment.
Esmeralda Domínguez was about 100 yards from home when soldiers and police blocked her on a small bridge. The authorities had waited there for hours. Dominguez, neighbors said, was the only person they stopped, AP reports.
Her aunt, who lived nearby, protested. Dominguez was no criminal, she insisted, rattling off the community organizations her niece led or was involved in. It didn’t matter.
“We know what we’re doing,” a soldier told the aunt before loading the young woman into a truck. It rumbled off, leaving her black motorcycle beside the road.
That was April 19. No one in her family has seen her since.
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