Close

Forgot your password?

Choose a newsletter




Premium access provided by ENSTA

Your premium access provided by ENSTA

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by NRC Q

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to NRC Q.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by EM-LYON

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to EM-LYON.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Goldsmiths

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Goldsmiths.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Worldcrunch HQ

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Worldcrunch HQ.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MINES Alès Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to MINES Alès Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by ESCP Europe Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to ESCP Europe Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by IONIS Education Group

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to IONIS Education Group.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by SOAS University of London

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to SOAS University of London.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Contact Expats

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Contact Expats.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by The Australian Financial Review

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to The Australian Financial Review.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Stabsstelle Alumni, Career service and Fundraising

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Stabsstelle Alumni, Career service and Fundraising.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Sciences Po Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Sciences Po Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by TBS Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to TBS Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MinnPost

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 6 months thanks to MinnPost.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Expatica

You've been given FREE premium access to Worldcrunch

Enter your email to begin

Worldcrunch

Gang Violence Surges In El Salvador

Once considered a social phenomenon of shared sense of identity for poor youth, gangs in El Salvador have grown increasingly deadly, as the country counts the world’s highest murder rate. Latin America's exploding drug trafficking routes threaten to make it all much worse.

Article illustrative image Partner logo A member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang being arrested

 

ILOPANGO - Ana, a 17-year-old El Salvadorian, is one of nine children. “My sister and I decided to rebel against the family, to do bad things,” she confides. “In this crazy world where everyone is killing each other, we don’t realize how wrong the things we do are.” A member of the Mara Salvatrucha, a gang of ultraviolent youth, she was sentenced to three years of prison for extortion.

Beatriz, 19, was a member of the main rival band, the Mara 18 (also known as the 18th Street Gang). “’People have the wrong idea about the maras,” she says. “They think they rape girls. But I’m respected. I used to have a ‘formal’ boyfriend, then I got together with a ‘marero.’ I preferred my friends to my family, whom I refused to love.”

Sentenced to six years in prison for extortion, Beatriz underwent therapy, then she went to a workshop where she learned cosmetics. She stopped using the slang of the maras and now dreams of pursuing her studies while working at the same time, as soon as she is released from prison. She is a member of the Friends of Israel Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Ana and Beatriz (their names have been changed to protect their identity) are serving their sentences at the Center for Social Reintegration for Women, the country’s only detention center for girls, located in IIopango, a 30-minute drive from the capital San Salvador.

Among the 50 or so young women aged between 15 and 22, at least one has been sentenced to 15 years for homicide: the violence of the maras is not an urban legend.

As for the young male members of the maras, prisons are crowded with them. There are 24,000 inmates, even though the prison system has the capacity to hold a third of that number. The prison wardens make sure to keep the rival gangs separated.

The longstanding feud between the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 has grown far more vicious as drug trafficking increased. “Overpopulated and uncontrollable prisons have become the centers for organized crime,” says El Salvador’s Minister of Defense General David Murguia.

Drug money and extortions mean that guards can be bribed. The army has thus taken over the prisons. “We search everyone, and we trust no one,” explains the General.

In the turbulent neighborhoods of San Salvador, soldiers often patrol by themselves. This deployment has been criticized by Benjamin Cuellar, the director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America. “The permanent use of the army for public missions is contrary to the constitution,” he claims.

Twenty years ago, the army was at war with leftist guerilla groups (leaving 75,000 either dead or unaccounted for). Now, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a former guerilla group, is the ruling government party since 2009. The call for military [control] however does not shock Sigfrido Reyes, the first elected official of the FMLN to preside over the Legislative Assembly. “The police, prosecutors, and judges have shown their ineffectiveness against crime and corruption,” he says.

“Our officers and soldiers were specially trained before taking on their new mission,” says General Murguia, who also brings up the threats at the country’s borders. El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala form the “northern triangle” of Central America, deeply affected by the explosion in violence. The fight against drug traffickers in Colombia and Mexico has diverted a significant amount of organized crime activity toward the more fragile Central American countries. “El Salvador is a secondary route for drugs making their way to the United States,” says the General. “Colombian cocaine passes more often through Nicaragua and Honduras.”

Neverthelesss, El Salvador suffers the highest rate of homicides in the world (70 per 100,000 inhabitants). More than 80% of offenses are committed with a firearm, remnants of the civil war (1980-1992). “Organized crime is transnational, the response must be local,” says Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez.

In the name of shared responsibility between producers and consumers of drugs and of countries of transit, Central America is asking for assistance from the United States and the European Union.

For example, the El Salvadorians do not archive digital fingerprints. A central wiretapping system was created with American help. However, “cartels and gangs have more resources than the Central American governments,” says General Murguia.

The connection between the maras and the traffickers transforms criminal activity. “The maras are no longer a phenomenon of identity for the youth,” says Aida Luz Santos de Escobar, president of the National Council of Public Security. “These gangs have become fertile ground for organized crime.” But with the drug trade creeping toward its borders, many believe the worst is yet to come.

Read the original article in French

Photo- Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign up for our weekly Global Life newsletter now


Be a part of the conversation. Click to show comments
About this article source Website: http://www.lemonde.fr/

This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.

Load More Stories

Unlimited access to exclusive journalism, the best world news source across all your devices

Subscribe Now Photo of Worldcrunch on different devices

Your premium access to Worldcrunch is provided by

University of Central Lancashire

Please register to begin


By registering you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.