Argentina Security Chief Visits El Salvador ‘Mega-Prison’ for Crimefighting Tips


Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich visited El Salvador’s CECOT “Mega Prison” on Sunday, seeking policies to emulate at home.

Bullrich’s visit to the 40,000-bed Salvadoran prison is part of a broader official visit expected to conclude on Wednesday. The security minister’s agenda reportedly includes a meeting with President Nayib Bukele as well as other members of the Salvadoran government and police forces.

Shortly after taking office in December, the government of Argentina expressed its intention to adapt and implement its own version of the “Bukele model” of fighting crime, which has worked in El Salvador to greatly reduce the threat of the nation’s largest criminal organizations in the past two years.

El Salvador has been under a state of emergency since March 2022 to combat gang violence, prompted after its most violent day in over a century in which police documented 62 homicides.

The still-active state of emergency decree, which has been renewed on a month-by-month basis, effectively placed El Salvador in a de facto state of martial law and has greatly expanded operations by Salvadoran security forces against gangs such as MS-13 and 18th Street, leading to the virtual “disappearance” of the gangs from Salvadoran territory.

Bullrich posted a brief video of her visit to the CECOT prison on Sunday in which she praised El Salvador for going from one of the world’s “most dangerous” countries to one where “families can walk, live in peace, and in tranquility” thanks to a program “to destroy the murderous gangs, which are now locked up here.”

“From a country taken over by violence, drug trafficking and the gangs that murdered 150,000 Salvadorans, to one of the safest countries in the world, where families have recovered their lives and live in peace,” Bullrich’s social media message read.

“This is the way. Tough on criminals. Freedom for the good Argentines,” the message continued.

Salvadoran Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said in a social media statement on Sunday that Bullrich’s visit is the result of the meeting between Presidents Bukele and Javier Milei. The two leaders held a private meeting on June 1 during Argentine President Milei’s visit to El Salvador for Bukele’s second inauguration.

“It is a true pleasure to receive you in El Salvador. I am sure that this visit from Argentina will be enriching, you and your team will be able to see first-hand the “Bukele Model,” Villatoro said.


Representatives from El Salvador and Argentina have increased dialogue on security issues this year. Bukele first confirmed security cooperation with Argentina during a press conference in February shortly after he was reelected for a new five-year term. Bukele gave a quick assessment of Argentina’s crime and gang violence situation, explaining that the measures his government could share with Argentina “wouldn’t have to be so drastic” as the ones implemented in El Salvador.

“In the face of smaller problems, maybe the medicine can be smaller,” Bukele said at the time.

Shortly before the visit to the prison, Bullrich visited El Salvador’s National Academy of Public Security to meet with its general director, César Flores Murillo. Bullrich stated that Murillo “shared with me a very complete and detailed explanation about the administration of the Police and its important results.”

Bullrich has explained that the security collaboration with El Salvador seeks to help Argentina overcome its crime and gang violence issues —  most notably in the crime-plagued city of Rosario. The security minister has also stated that the security collaboration would be of a technical nature and would not involve the participation of Salvadoran security forces in Argentine territory.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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