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.
National Assembly 16 Aug voted to make permanent the controversial “extraordinary measures” in place in some prisons, including extreme isolation of jailed gang members; vote entrenches security policy based on tough law enforcement, and seen by observers as likely to deepen crisis in country’s jails and make possibility of dialogue with gangs more remote; also prompted criminal gangs to increase attacks against police and military in protest. Police chief Howard Cotto 7 Aug claimed murder of six police officers two weeks before vote were part of gang strategy to push for suspension of “extraordinary measures”, bringing total officers killed in 2018 to fourteen. Human rights groups continued to voice concern over measures including extreme isolation of jailed gang members. 61 MS-13 gang members, including national leaders, were condemned to over 100 years’ prison 21 Aug after arrest in July 2016 “Operation Jaque”. Attorney General 28 Aug launched operation against MS-13 with 50 arrests. Month saw some progress in fight against corruption as former President Saca 7 Aug pleaded guilty to embezzlement scheme amounting to over $300mn during his govt, becoming first former Salvadoran head of state to face prison for corruption. Govt 21 Aug established diplomatic relations with China, ending support for Taiwan (see Taiwan Strait).
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.