El Salvador, still recovering from its 1980-1992 civil war, is beset with endemic poverty and police corruption. Since the late 1990s, waves of violent crime have hit the country, making its murder rate one of the world’s highest. Most killings are perpetrated by gangs extorting money or fighting for control of city districts. Every year the dangers of daily life push tens of thousands of Salvadorans to hazard the journey north to the U.S. border. Through its fieldwork and advocacy, Crisis Group presses for crime prevention, rehabilitation and socio-economic reform policies that can make El Salvador a safer place to live.
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 continued to improve with President Bukele reporting Jan as least deadly month since end of civil war in 1992, while Legislative Assembly (LA) passed historic law to protect victims of forced displacement. Govt 8 Jan reported homicides fell by 60% since Bukele took office in June 2019, totalling 2,398 in 2019; attorney general 13 Jan reported 3,202 disappearances in 2019, down from 3,679 in 2018; 8 Jan made combatting extortion his priority for 2020 after reports increased 17.2% in 2019, to 2,598 cases. Bukele reported smallest number of homicides in Jan since end of civil war in 1992. Public opinion poll which surveyed 1,204 people 16 Jan showed 91% approval rate for Bukele. LA 9 Jan passed bill to protect internally displaced persons notably by bringing together institutions to respond to and prevent forced displacement. On day of 28th anniversary of 1992 peace agreement 14 Jan, victims of 1980-1992 civil war continued to decry impunity for war crimes and demanded that they be consulted in formulation of National Reconciliation Law, which LA has been discussing since July 2016, when Supreme Court declared Amnesty Law unconstitutional. Prosecutors 9 Jan issued arrest warrant for prominent opposition politician Sigfrido Reyes, who left country in Nov, for embezzlement during his term as LA president from 2011 to 2015; judge asked international police organisation Interpol to issue red notice for his arrest. Attorney general 27 Jan initiated pre-trial procedure against former head of LA Norman Quijano, on charges of illicit association and electoral fraud, for reportedly meeting with gang members and negotiating their support for his presidential race in 2014.
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.