EL SALVADOR: ONE YEAR GANG TRUCE
Published on: Thu Mar 21, 2013
Incarcerated 18th Street gang members
Violence dominated conversation in El Salvador during the decade leading up to 2012. Daily, newspaper front pages carried photos of the most gruesome murders of the last 24 hours. Elections were won and lost on a government’s response to the country’s “security situation”. In 2011 El Salvador’s homicide rate of 72 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants was the second highest in the world, only behind that of neighbouring Honduras. Extortions, kidnappings and armed robberies were common and travelling on public buses meant taking your life into your own hands. The country was one of the most violent places on the planet.
Salvadoran citizens demanded forceful repression to combat crime and increase security. Their top worry was the visible threat posed by El Salvador’s violent and notorious street gangs, MS-13 and M-18. The government under President Mauricio Funes responded by placing military patrols on the streets and running large anti-gang operations (read more).