Over the last three years, gang violence has killed nearly 20,000 people in El Salvador, propelling tens of thousands northward in search of safety. With U.S. help, the Salvadoran government should try to counter gangs with crime prevention as much as with law enforcement.
Relations between President Bukele and Legislative Assembly (LA) remained tense; LA 31 October shut down controversial commission it had created to investigate accusations that opposition parties Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) and the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) could have been behind Sept peak in homicides. Commission nonetheless presented report 26 Nov arguing no evidence was found, and suggested president dismiss govt official who made accusations. Bukele 12 Nov urged LA to approve funds for govt’s Territorial Control Plan to combat crime. Bukele 13 Nov met with new LA head and announced “180-degree shift” in relations with LA. Officials pointed to improvements in security and the fight against organised crime: Minister of Justice and Public Security 5 Nov stated that, as a result of Territorial Control Plan, security forces had seized more than 2,000 weapons, while Bukele reported Oct was least violent month since 1992. Director of prisons system 17 Nov claimed to have been able to curb communication from within jails to the outside. On international front, Bukele 3 Nov recognised Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela and gave Venezuelan diplomats 48 hours to leave country.
Intense gang warfare continues to plague El Salvador, undeterred by successive governments’ heavy-handed and militarised repression policies. More investment in holistic violence prevention strategies and economic alternatives to criminal violence are necessary if the country's chronic insecurity crisis is to be alleviated.
Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
Un pacto de Estado por la paz en El Salvador [entre el Partido FMLN y Arena que] suponga un compromiso con los cinco ejes del Plan El Salvador Seguro [es un paso indispensable].
Reprimir y perseguir el crimen [en El Salvador] es necesario, pero tratar por igual a los supuestos criminales y al casi medio millón de personas que viven bajo su yugo puede llegar a ser contraproducente.
El sociólogo Robert King Merton calificó de "profecía autocumplida" una predicción que, una vez hecha, es en sí misma la causa de que se haga realidad.
Originally published in EFE
Originally published in The Washington Post
The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.