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.
Govt confirmed further increase in violence in first months of 2018, with homicides up 10% on 2017. Attorney General Douglas Meléndez 10 May noted existence of new gang violence in northern San Salvador, in centre of country, and expansion of gang violence in many municipalities prioritised under “Safe El Salvador” govt violence prevention program. In 15 May media interview, two heads of MS-13 gang highlighted new call by three largest gangs for new truce with govt. Gender-based violence also increased; Ministry of Justice and Public Security announced 17% increase in femicides in 2018, totalling 165 as of 15 May. Govt 3 May approved initiative presented by women’s rights groups to combat gender violence. Minister of Justice 26 April acknowledged police and armed forces’ involvement in causing insecurity and forced displacement. Seven police officers sent to trial 7 May for killing four people; thirteen police officers convicted of crimes including extortion, murder and sexual harassment. Former President Saca and six members of his govt 16 May sent to trial for money laundering. FMLN ruling party chose FM Hugo Martínez as its presidential candidate for 2019 elections.
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.