& # 39; We are not terrorists, we are human & # 39 ;: gang members behind bars in El Salvador say they have been reformed

Some 1700 imprisoned gang members in El Salvador claim that they are turning their lives into a rehabilitation program have a message for US President Donald Trump: they are not & # 39; terrorists & # 39; nor & # 39; animals & # 39 ;.

In the heavily guarded Chalatenango prison in the north of the country, detainees take lessons in bakery, customization, carpentry, woodwork and even art and culture, in an attempt to prepare for life after imprisonment.

Despite not distancing themselves from the notorious Mara Salvatrucha – or MS-13 – gang, the Chalatenango prisoners have signed up for the & # 39; Yo Cambio & # 39; program (I am changing).

About 1,700 Mara Salvatrucha gang members (MS-13) who were included in a program called & # 39; Yo cambio & # 39; (I change), claiming that they have changed their lives

A member of the MS-13 gang plays the guitar at Chalatenango Prison, 84 km north of San Salvador, on March 29

A member of the MS-13 gang plays the guitar at Chalatenango Prison, 84 km north of San Salvador, on March 29

A member of the MS-13 gang plays the guitar at Chalatenango Prison, 84 km north of San Salvador, on March 29

& # 39; We are people like everyone else: people. We have changed and we show that those gang members who have been deprived of their freedom can make a positive contribution to society, & says the program coordinator, Alexis Castro, a 33-year-old MS-13 gang member who is imprisoned of ten years, thus: three armed guards watched.

Some 1700 heavily tattooed prisoners, mostly young people, are crammed into a prison with a capacity of only 350, which endure scorching heat and harsh conditions – phone calls and visits are prohibited here.

They have been accused of a series of crimes including murder, extortion, drug sales, car theft and forced recruitment of children.

In the heavily guarded Chalatenango prison in the north of the country, detainees take lessons in bakery, customization, carpentry, woodwork and even art and culture, in an attempt to prepare for life after imprisonment.

In the heavily guarded Chalatenango prison in the north of the country, detainees take lessons in bakery, customization, carpentry, woodwork and even art and culture, in an attempt to prepare for life after imprisonment.

In the heavily guarded Chalatenango prison in the north of the country, detainees take lessons in bakery, customization, carpentry, woodwork and even art and culture, in an attempt to prepare for life after imprisonment.

They claim that they have changed their lives and that they are not terrorists, as US President Donald Trump calls them

They claim that they have changed their lives and that they are not terrorists, as US President Donald Trump calls them

They claim that they have changed their lives and that they are not terrorists, as US President Donald Trump calls them

They claim that they have changed their lives and that they are not terrorists, as US President Donald Trump calls them

They claim that they have changed their lives and that they are not terrorists, as US President Donald Trump calls them

Yet there are still many who deal with Trump branding MS-13 as & # 39; violent animals & # 39; as well as the Supreme Court in 2015 stating that gangs, including Barrio 18 – another notorious outfit – & # 39 ; terrorist groups & # 39; because they carry out systematic attacks on the life (and) safety of the population.

& # 39; We have been labeled as terrorists, but we have never been terrorists & # 39 ;, said Castro.

& # 39; We say to Donald Trump, we are not terrorists, we are human, normal and ordinary people. & # 39;

& # 39; We are people like everyone else: people. We have changed and we show that those gang members who have been deprived of their freedom can make a positive contribution to society, "said the program coordinator, Alexis Castro, for armed guards

& # 39; We are people like everyone else: people. We have changed and we show that those gang members who have been deprived of their freedom can make a positive contribution to society, "said the program coordinator, Alexis Castro, for armed guards

& # 39; We are people like everyone else: people. We have changed and we show that those gang members who have been deprived of their freedom can make a positive contribution to society, "said the program coordinator, Alexis Castro, for armed guards

The lessons are usually theoretical because the prisoners do not have the necessary materials to participate in practical training

The lessons are usually theoretical because the prisoners do not have the necessary materials to participate in practical training

The lessons are usually theoretical because the prisoners do not have the necessary materials to participate in practical training

Many of the men are still eager at Trump branding MS-13 as & # 39; violent animals & # 39 ;, as well as the Supreme Court declaring in 2015 that gangs, including Barrio 18 - another notorious outfit - & # 39; terrorist groups & # 39; to be

Many of the men are still eager at Trump branding MS-13 as & # 39; violent animals & # 39 ;, as well as the Supreme Court declaring in 2015 that gangs, including Barrio 18 - another notorious outfit - & # 39; terrorist groups & # 39; to be

Many of the men are still eager at Trump branding MS-13 as & # 39; violent animals & # 39 ;, as well as the Supreme Court declaring in 2015 that gangs, including Barrio 18 – another notorious outfit – & # 39; terrorist groups & # 39; to be

MS-13: Who are they?

Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13, is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, in the 1970s and 1980s.

The gang later spread to many parts of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America and is active in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Most members are Central American, Salvadorans in particular. MS-13 is determined by its cruelty and its rivalry with the 18th Street Gang. As an international gang, history is closely linked to relations between the US and El Salvador.

Nestor Mendoza, 29, has served nine years from a 30-year sentence, but is happy to prepare for reintegration into society.

& # 39; Trump has called us animals and we are here to show society and him that we are human beings with hearts and that we are willing to make a dramatic change in our lives, & # 39; said Mendoza.

The lessons are usually theoretical because the prisoners do not have the necessary materials to participate in practical training.

They hope that the newly elected president-elect Nayib Bukele – who will take office on June 1 – is a & # 39; government of opportunities & # 39; will implement opening work centers for gang members, Castro said.

Bendes such as MS-13 were born on the streets of Los Angeles in the US before they spread to Central America.

El Salvador currently has an estimated 70,000 gang members, of which more than 16,000 are behind bars. About 3,300 of them have registered for training programs & # 39; s.

Marco Tulio, general manager of Prisons, said that three other prisoners who keep gang members are participating in the training program, but said prisoners & # 39; proof of change & # 39; must show to continue in the scheme

Marco Tulio, general manager of Prisons, said that three other prisoners who keep gang members are participating in the training program, but said prisoners & # 39; proof of change & # 39; must show to continue in the scheme

Marco Tulio, general manager of Prisons, said that three other prisoners who keep gang members are participating in the training program, but said prisoners & # 39; proof of change & # 39; must show to continue in the scheme

At the top of the training program in Chalatenango, a prison band plays cumbia and salsa rhythms to alleviate the rigors of criminal life

At the top of the training program in Chalatenango, a prison band plays cumbia and salsa rhythms to alleviate the rigors of criminal life

At the top of the training program in Chalatenango, a prison band plays cumbia and salsa rhythms to alleviate the rigors of criminal life

Members of the MS-13 gang make music with improvised instruments in Chalatenango prison while others watch

Members of the MS-13 gang make music with improvised instruments in Chalatenango prison while others watch

Members of the MS-13 gang make music with improvised instruments in Chalatenango prison while others watch

The men have been accused of a series of crimes including murder, extortion, drug sales, car theft and forced recruitment of children

The men have been accused of a series of crimes including murder, extortion, drug sales, car theft and forced recruitment of children

The men have been accused of a series of crimes including murder, extortion, drug sales, car theft and forced recruitment of children

Marco Tulio, general manager of Prisons, said that three other penitentiaries holding gang members are participating in the training program, but said prisoners & # 39; proof of change & # 39; must show to continue in the scheme.

In addition to the training program in Chalatenango, a prison band plays cumbia and salsa rhythms to ease the rigors of criminal life.

The band & # 39; Prisoners of Time & # 39; uses improvised instruments made of iron and plastic, although they hope that a charity or church will one day give them real instruments.

The men hope that the new elected president-elect Nayib Bukele - who will take office on June 1 - is a & # 39; government of opportunities & # 39; will implement opening work centers for gang members, Castro said

The men hope that the new elected president-elect Nayib Bukele - who will take office on June 1 - is a & # 39; government of opportunities & # 39; will implement opening work centers for gang members, Castro said

The men hope that the new elected president-elect Nayib Bukele – who will take office on June 1 – is a & # 39; government of opportunities & # 39; will implement opening work centers for gang members, Castro said

Bendes such as MS-13 were born on the streets of Los Angeles in the US before they spread to Central America

Bendes such as MS-13 were born on the streets of Los Angeles in the US before they spread to Central America

Bendes such as MS-13 were born on the streets of Los Angeles in the US before they spread to Central America

& # 39; I write songs with my cell mates to illuminate the atmosphere & # 39 ;, says Ramon Villegas, a 30-year-old singer who served six years of a 40-year sentence for various crimes.

In another corner of the prison, Cristobal Arias (30) gives guitar lessons and says he wants to compose a song for his two daughters, four and ten years old, whom he & # 39; terrible & # 39; fog.

& # 39; I can't wait to get out of here and show society that we can really live a productive life & # 39 ;, said Arias, who is halfway through an eight-year sense of extortion.

El Salvador currently has an estimated 70,000 gang members, of which more than 16,000 are behind bars. About 3,300 of them have registered for training programs & # 39; s

El Salvador currently has an estimated 70,000 gang members, of which more than 16,000 are behind bars. About 3,300 of them have registered for training programs & # 39; s

El Salvador currently has an estimated 70,000 gang members, of which more than 16,000 are behind bars. About 3,300 of them have registered for training programs & # 39; s