TWO OF THE WORLD’S MOST VIOLENT GANGS HAVING A TRUCE IN EL SALVADOR
11 mayo, 2012
The smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America, the six million people El Salvador, has a long time endured of the reputation of one of the most violent countries in the world. The country’s two main gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18, have commanded the streets of El Salvador with their violate confrontations and extortions for the last two decades.
Nevertheless, there has been a significant change in the country’s high homicide rate which has normally been from 13 to 15 people on average per day. This is due to the truce which the two main gangs declared in March to decrease the killings on the streets. The murder rate shrank two-thirds overnight and according to the local police May has been even calmer.
Besides the truce the gangs promised on the 2nd of March to stop recruiting kids and teenagers as new gang members from schools. Five days later prisoners at La Esperanza, San Salvador, assured not to extort people using jail phones. There are still a lot of doubts concerning the truce and its durability.
“People are breathing easier. But there is a feeling it could be the lull before the storm,” states a local priest, David Blanchard, whose church lies right in the middle of the gang scenes in San Salvador. There are some speculations that the Maras are doing all this just to let the local businesses recover and afterwards force the people to pay them even more. The gangs have been compelling the vendors to pay them “rent” of 5-15 dollars per day and this has led to many store closures in the area.
We can also doubt about the fact that this truce will settle the situation in El Salvador. In this country, the government don’t receive enough money in order to struggle effectively against these powerful gangs. For instance, in Belize last year, there was the same truce situation which stopped in March 2012. There are some old events that remember the development of the Salvadorian gangs has its origins in a superpower: United States.
Twenty years ago, they didn’t succeed to resolve the raise in gangs . Then, the U.S Government decided to displace the gang and violence problem to Central America with all the convicts from here. Now, the FBI help the Salvadorian government to train an anti-gang special unit. All these facts make us wonder how a big country as United States settled a problem moving it in other places and,now it has to help them to settle it with U.S institutions. We can think it’s fair to help the Salvadorian people to live more peaceful and to take care of the future of their children in their own country.
But at the same time, it’s really controversial to be confident with two of the most violent gangs and to believe that all things will be better thanks to some negotiations with them. At the moment, Salvadorian people want to take advantage of all that the Maras promised to improve their situation.
They are not too optimistic neither pessimistic and us too.