The El Pharaoh newspaper revealed the deal between the government and the criminal gang.
“This is the purpose of the magazine: to expose.” This is how El Pharaoh, editor-in-chief of the Salvador newspaper, responds to France 24’s question as to what prompted him to publish his latest and most explosive investigation.
“Journalism is based on the idea that an informed society makes better decisions than an ignorant one,” continues journalist Oscar Martinez.
“Therefore, I think the Salvador community needs to know that its government is negotiating with criminal groups. The mothers, fathers, children and siblings of the 87 people who died need to know why their relatives fell that weekend,” he added.
The 87 deaths Martinez cites were recorded in El Salvador between March 25 and 27. On Saturday, 26, 62 homicides were reported in the country, marking the deadliest day since the end of the civil war.
These crimes were soon reported by the Salvador administration to criminal groups known as “gangs” or “maras”.
This wave of violence in El Salvador led Congress to approve an emergency regime at the end of March. The move, which was hugely popular among the people, was seen as a definitive response to these widespread gangs.
At the time, several local media outlets attributed the drop in the number of violent deaths recorded over the weekend to an agreement between President Naib Bukhele’s government and gangs.
El Pharaoh came to add fuel to the fire with an inquiry this week, and Martinez says France 24 is under investigation and what is at stake.
An investigation to confirm the journalists’ suspicions
The press release was released this Tuesday and aims to prove that the alleged breach of agreement between the Salvador government and the gangs led to the massacre in late March.
It was signed by Carlos Martinez, while his brother Oscar Martinez intervened as editor.
The latter is not surprising at the inquest, but says they came to confirm the suspicions already in the newspaper: “We had suspicions, but certainly – the journalist himself is correcting – the killings have increased. We need to make some issues in the negotiations between the government and the mob.”
El Farrow has been enjoying a long life in disclosing agreements between successive governments and gangs. Therefore, this is not the first investigation to shed light on the alleged use of these methods by the current government.
“Furthermore, we know from experience that gangs, as a criminal organization, use the dead as a means of coercion.
To prepare for this investigation, journalist Carlos Martinez claims to have been in contact with two leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha-13 and one of Bario 18, one of the most influential groups in El Salvador.
To justify seeking criminals to write this work, the reporter calls “press reasons”: “To tell a story in its entirety, one cannot speak only to those who morally like him.”
According to him, the government itself gives weight and voice to gangs: “They have turned them into political actors and given them prominence. So we have developed resources within those companies as well.
“You don’t have to be the best journalist in the world to talk to a gang member.”
A journalist with extensive experience covering the Salvadorian reality insists on keeping things in context in the country: “According to the latest estimates, El Salvador has more than 70,000 members and nearly 6.5 million members. You do not have to be the best journalist in the world to talk to a gang member. It’s not that strange to get a member as a source. “
In fact, the famous British network BBC Mundo published an interview with the leaders of the Barrio 18-Sureños a month ago.
However, Oscar Martinez insists that at no time did the newspaper’s editorial board protect the gang members’ crimes: “They should have come to us because they felt betrayed by the government. But we did not stop questioning their functions. They have intimidated us many times.
If reporters feel the need to talk to gang members at times to understand the intricacies of a story, Oscar Martinez promises, “We will not publish anything that seems unreliable to us. The information they provide us will always be verified.
In the case of this investigation, the released audios come from telephone conversations between the head of Mara Salvatrocha-13 and Carlos Marquez, director of El Salvador’s social fabric restoration. These conversations would have been recorded without the consent of the latter, “Martinez says,” although it is somewhat naive to think that gang members in a country like El Salvador would not want to protect evidence.
When journalist Carlos Martinez had them in his possession, the audios were first verified with gang evidence. “Then we talked to another source, and it’s not even possible to mention it in the article,” says Oscar Martinez.
Finally, El Pharaoh used three pieces of software – two for forensic audio and one for commercial use – to compare Morocco’s voice to the voice heard on record in some of his public interventions.
The context of the “persecution” of press freedom
So the trial was born, and it was “undeniably” charged – Martinez’s comments – that Naib Boukel’s government had negotiated with criminal actors. But what danger does that publication have to its authors? “The problem is, we’re releasing this investigation while a ‘Cock’ law had already been approved.”
The bill, referred to by scar Martínez, was voted on in the first week of April. “Those who recreate news that allegedly originated from gangs” could face up to 15 years in prison; According to the same text, we should avoid creating “anxiety and panic” among the people.
“But it is the government that is creating the tension, and 87 people have died in the country because of its failed negotiations,” the journalist says.
Oscar Martinez goes further in his allegations, and the reform, which was approved a few weeks before the publication of his group’s works, arose with the intention of covering up the investigation: «It is no longer difficult. I believe anything of this government as far as I am concerned. I don’t know why journalists are banned from covering gangs after waves of violence. I would not be surprised if they had any idea about the investigation, and were afraid that what we revealed would be exposed.
At the time of the interview, Carlos and Oscar were in Mexico, but for work reasons. “On the other hand, we have Salvadoran colleagues who are under detention and deportation. They have been persecuted for disclosure and interrogation;
However, the editor-in-chief of El Pharaoh told France 24 that he did not want to be intimidated: “The puzzle is not yet organized. Many pieces are missing;
Response from key victims is still awaited. In the audios between Morocco and Mara Salvatore, their so-called ‘Batman’, President Naib Phukele, has not yet clarified the complaint.
“This is not the first time,” Martinez said. “The past shows that when a story he does not like is imposed on him, he tends to shut his mouth. In a democracy, at least I have to say that my face is being investigated. But El Salvador is no longer democracy: a man treats everything.
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