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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Brazil Presidential Race Gets One More Candidate

Environmentalist Marina Silva to join contest for Socialist Party candidate; vote to be held October 5
More

Guatemalan General Killed in Copter Crash Near Mexico Border

General Rudy Ortiz was among five people killed; cause under investigation; weather said to have been possible factor
More

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More

Ex-Guatemalan Drug Kingpin Pleads Guilty to US Charges

Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, linked by authorities to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than 450 kilograms of Colombian cocaine into US
More

Landmark Brazil Poll Brings Good News for Rousseff

Facing tough road to re-election, Rousseff has seen sharp recovery in approval ratings, voter support
More