News / Americas

    Criminal Gangs in El Salvador Return to War Path After Two-Year Truce

    Criminal Gangs in El Salvador Return to War Path After Two-Year Trucei
    X
    March 25, 2014 4:02 AM
    Two years ago, two of the most violent gangs in El Salvador -- Mara Salvatrucha 13 and Barrio 18 -- signed a truce. But fighting between the two criminal groups has been on the rise in recent months, and so has the death toll. Zlatica Hoke reports there is fear of a renewed inter-gang war in one of Latin America's most dangerous countries.
    Criminal Gangs in El Salvador Return to War Path After Two-Year Truce
    Zlatica Hoke
    Two years ago, two of the most violent gangs in El Salvador -- Mara Salvatrucha 13 and Barrio 18 -- signed a truce. But as fighting between the two criminal groups has been on the rise in recent months, so has the death toll.  Fears are starting to grow of a renewed gang war in one of Latin America's most dangerous countries.
     
    Majucla is one of the poorest and also one of the most violent communities in El Salvador. Located just north of the capital, San Salvador, Majucla is controlled by the infamous gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13. Shootings are frequent in the dirt road neighborhood, and no one is safe.
     
    The owner of a local bus line, Rigoberto Hernandez, said businesses have to pay to be spared.
     
    “It’s very dangerous because we have to work from 4:00 AM, and if somebody doesn’t like you, they can kill you at that time. As we say here, you have to pay to survive,” said Hernandez.
     
    During the mid-1990s, fighting between Mara Salvatrucha and the rival Barrio 18 gang often killed up to 16 people a day. Between 2003 and 2009, hardline governments filled El Salvador's prisons with gang members without any impact on violent crime. Then, in March 2012, a left-wing government secretly negotiated a peace deal between the two groups, and the city's murder rate was almost cut in half. 
     
    The gangs created violence-free sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers, like bakeries, where former gang members could find jobs.
     
    However, police now say that since January, the murder rate has increased, reaching as many as nine homicides per day.
     
    Police inspector Perez-Reyes would not confirm that the government had a role in the truce, but said it appears the gangs are back at war.
     
    “We have nothing to do with the truce. Apparently it’s an agreement between the gangs. But given the rise in homicides, we think the truce is over,” said Perez-Reyes.
     
    Residents in the capital said that even when the murder rate was down, racketeering and other crimes continued. Bus drivers still have to pay gangs a so-called “protection tax”, or renta.
     
    Adam Blackwell, security chief for the Organization of American States, said a temporary truce is not enough to permanently rid El Salvador and other Latin American countries of the scourge of gang crime. 
     
    “What happened was a truce. A truce is when at a moment in time there is a cease-fire between fighters in a war. What follows is peace and peace is always more complicated and always takes more time. That’s what we are trying to build,” said Blackwell.
     
    Analysts said gang members need an alternative to street life, and rehabilitation programs can be complex and costly.
     
    Hopes are high that the incoming government of leftist President-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren will be able to curb gang violence and start building such programs.  He takes office in June.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Kidnapped Mexican Football Star Rescued

    Alan Pulido was abducted by gunmen outside his home town of Ciudad Victoria as he left a party

    Hundreds of Thousands of Brazilians Hold Gay Rights Parade

    Gay rights advocates in Brazil are pushing the congress to pass a law allowing Brazilians to legally identify themselves as the gender of their choice

    Haiti Braces for Trouble as Election Panel Report Is Due

    Haitians are preparing for trouble as electoral verification commission is due to deliver results of its monthlong review of last year's contested presidential and legislative elections

    Brazil Launches Manhunt for Alleged Gang Rapists

    Police identifies four of 30 suspects who gang raped teenager and posted video online

    'El Chapo' Lawyers Split on Extradition Case

    Lawyers can't agree on staving off extradition to US

    Colombia Rebels Release Three Journalists

    All three, including a Spanish correspondent working on a story about coca growers, were released Friday