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.
Security situation remains critical with enduring high levels of killings and widespread gang violence. National Police 27 April reported 1,006 homicides since start of year, 228 less than same period in 2018, however homicide rate rose again during April. In anti-gang operations, police early April arrested MS-13 leader accused of extortion and 117 alleged members of group. Minister of Security and civil society 8 April called on Legislative Assembly to approve law recognising internal displacement, in line with 2018 Constitutional Chamber ruling; govt has previously refused to recognise phenomenon of internal displacement resulting from criminal violence. Anti-corruption drive focussing on high-level former officials continued with Supreme Court late March approving attorney general’s request for former President Funes’ extradition from Nicaragua on corruption charges, which Nicaragua rejected, saying Funes has political asylum; Funes and former President Saca among ten Salvadorans on U.S. blacklist of corrupt officials published 4 April.
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.