Local communities in Tecoluca San Vicente displeased with the new Mega-Prison center location

By Karla Ramos  |  Aug 7th, 2022
El Salvador Mega PrisonNew jail in Tecoluca San Vicente.

Local communities near the new El Salvador mega-prison in Tecoluca San Vicente are unhappy with the Bukele administration. Since construction began in June, local communities have complained to the President of the Republic, Nayib Bukele, and other local officials for not consulting them when deciding on the construction.

“It is a project without consultation and does not have the approval of the local municipalities,” this is the common sentiment among the many local people who oppose the project. The Tecoluca prison could generate serious problems for the area, such as environmental, social, and productive.

According to locals, the area around the prison is fertile and ideal for agriculture and farming. Less agriculture production will affect the economy of the region. Also, local unemployment could increase as most people in the Tecoluca area (a predominantly rural territory) work in the agricultural and farm sectors.

Locals are also concerned with the impact of the prison on water resources. These communities are already facing the Salvadoran water problem; they only receive potable water a few days a week. The water problem could get worse once the prison operates at maximum capacity.

Another concern of the locals is the devaluation of their land; properties near jails tend to lose value drastically because of all the social and environmental problems that occur near them.

“At least six communities in San Vicente spoke out against the construction of the prison announced by president Nayib Bukele. According to those affected, this mega project will cause serious environmental impacts.” @GatoEncerradoSV.

The 20,000 inmates of the new prison will represent 71.5% of the current population of the municipality of Tecoluca (27,970 inhabitants in 2022). This many people in the area will tremendously impact the region’s natural resources.

Many residents whose land was expropriated by the Salvadoran Government have not been able to obtain new fertile land at the price the government bought them, according to a UCA article.

According to statements by farmers who were forced to sell, government officials did not listen to their arguments as to why they should not build the prison in that area. The only option given to them was to sell.

The inhabitants of Tecoluca hold Mayor Nicolas Antonio García of the Nuevas Ideas political party responsible for authorizing the permits for the jail construction and not speaking out in favor of the community.

Residents of Tecoluca have also complained that the municipality is losing out on more than three million dollars in revenue; the city hall is not charging the standard municipal rate to the construction company.

Politically speaking, this mega-jail will impact the results of the upcoming 2024 Salvadoran elections. Well, at least at a local level.

The new mega-prison is urgently needed because the Salvadoran prison system is already overcrowded. It will get worse with the addition of the more than 48,000 alleged criminals arrested under the controversial state of exception.

The new Mega-Prison is far away from urban areas, which makes many Salvadoran happy; however, that is not enough for the local communities in the Tecoluca area.