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Central America

El Salvador gang arrests top 30,000 in 50 days

AFP

El Salvador has arrested more than 30,000 suspected gang members since President Nayib Bukele in March launched his “war” on criminal groups terrorizing the country, police said on Monday.

Bukele announced a state of emergency in late March following a bloody weekend in which 87 people were killed in gang-related violence.

Since then, the police and military have been rounding up suspected gang members using emergency powers that have done away with the need for arrest warrants.

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The small Central American country has also increased sentences for gang membership five-fold, to up to 45 years.

The national civil police force said on Twitter that “536 terrorists were arrested on Sunday May 15, the date at which we reached 50 days since the beginning of the state of emergency.”

“The total number captured since the beginning of the war on gangs is 30,506.”

The wave of detentions is unprecedented in a country of 6.5 million people that has suffered decades of violent crime driven by powerful gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18.

These gangs count some 70,000 members, and including the recent detentions about 46,000 of them are behind bars, according to authorities.

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Rights groups have denounced the arrest of many minors with no gang links.

Earlier this month, Vice President Felix Ulloa told representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross that the arrests were necessary to fight the gangs.

“The Salvadoran state is assisted by Jus ad Bellum (Latin for ‘right to war’) to defend the people against gang criminal violence,” he said.

Jus ad bellum is an international set of criteria to be consulted before the use of armed force or resorting to war.

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Sports

Artistic swimmer Alvarez finds peace and beauty in images of her rescue

AFP

American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez said she was “shocked” when she saw the “beautiful” AFP photographs showing her sinking unconscious to the bottom of the pool and being rescued by her coach at the World Swimming Championships.

Alvarez fainted and dropped to the bottom at the end of her individual routine and was saved by her quick-thinking coach. AFP’s underwater robot camera captured astonishing images as the drama unfolded.  

Alvarez, who was unconscious throughout, told Spanish media she was moved when she saw the images.

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“At first I was shocked,” she said.

“I didn’t expect something like this to be published. But then I took it in my stride. I didn’t want to look at it negatively. 

“Now I think the photos are beautiful, in a way. To see me down there in the water, so peaceful, so quiet, and to see Andrea coming down with her arm outstretched trying to reach me, like a superhero.”

When she saw Alvarez sinking and lifeguards standing watching, coach Andrea Fuentes, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, dived to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface.

“It was a big scare. I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it,” Fuentes told Spanish media.

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“When I saw her sinking, I looked at the rescuers, but I saw that they were stunned. They didn’t react.

“My reflexes kicked in.

“I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medallist, adding that the swimmer’s heart was beating.

Alvarez said the photos also reinforced her love of her sport.

“Sometimes the most peaceful place on earth is underwater: when you sit at the bottom of the pool in silence. You feel you are weightless, you are with yourself. I love that. Sometimes I need that moment. And in the photos it all looks very natural.”

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The USA artistic team released a statement from Fuentes on Thursday saying Alvarez had fainted due to the effort expended during the routine. 

“This happened to her once last year at the Olympic Qualification Tournament when competing her duet,” said Alyssa Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the US team.

Jacobs said Alvarez could still take part in the Team Free Final on Friday.

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Central America

Dozens of turtles, dolphins found dead in Guatemala, probe launched

AFP

Dozens of turtles, dolphins and other marine species have been found dead on Guatemala’s Pacific coast, prompting an official investigation, authorities said Thursday.

As many as 65 turtles, most of them of the Olive Ridley variety, and 14 dolphins were discovered dead earlier this week, Guatemala’s National Council of Protected Areas told AFP.

The agency didn’t say where exactly the dead animals were found.

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Officials at the agency believe the deaths could have been caused by heavy rains in recent days, which could have carried some toxic materials from the mainland into the sea.

Investigators are also looking into whether industrial fishing being developed offshore could have played a role.

Experts in this Central American nation will now study the animals’ remains to determine what caused the deaths.

Local officials together with volunteers were also looking to see if more dead species were to be found.

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Sports

Medvedev out as Tsitsipas reaches Mallorca semi-finals

AFP

World number one Daniil Medvedev lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open on Thursday, while second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the last four.

Medvedev was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by Bautista Agut who avenged his defeat by the Russian in last week’s quarter-finals at Halle. 

“I had to play very good to beat Daniil. He’s the number one, the last champion here in Mallorca. He just beat me a few days ago. I played a really complete match,” said Bautista Agut.

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Bautista Agut broke Medvedev once in the first set and twice in the second as he earned a fourth win in five meetings with the US Open champion.

The Spaniard takes on Tallon Griekspoor or Switzerland’s 303rd-ranked Antoine Bellier in the semi-finals.

The loss marks the end of Medvedev’s grass-court season. He is one of several players banned from Wimbledon following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tsitsipas needed three sets to get past American Marcos Giron. 

The Greek saved two break points to start the final set and then broke Giron in the eighth game before completing a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3 victory.

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Tsitsipas, who has lost in the first round on three of his four appearances at Wimbledon, will play France’s Benjamin Bonzi for a place in the final. He has never won a title on grass.

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