El Salvador is losing the war it declared on criminals
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El Salvador is losing the war it declared on criminals

Violence rates in El Salvador doubled last year’s total during the first two months of this year: around 1,400 people have been murdered so far in 2016, an increase of 117,6 percent from the same period year previous and an increase 191% compared to 2014, El Salvador.com informed.

“As in 2015 , the number of murders reported daily in El Salvador is higher than that recorded during the civil war (1980-1992), that claimed the lives of 75,000 people,” the website added.

But why are these rates increasing so dramatically?

The war against crime declared by President Sánchez Cerén one year ago, during January 2015, added a new dimension to the phenomenon. The main source of violence has been the Mara Salvatrucha gang (divided into the Barrio 18 and MS-13 factions), which has increased its bloody influence since the mass deportations of gangsters from the United States during the Bill Clinton administration, the BBC writes.

During February 2016, the murder rate soared to 22 homicides daily, while it was reported at 18 daily during 2015 and 10 homicides committed daily two years ago, the article adds.

Gangs impose their own rules inside their territories, preventing even the State forces from entering. Hundreds of casualties, combatants from each side, have been caught in the crossfire. The vast majority of these being ordinary people who live under a reign of terror where the law is simple: “see, hear, shut up”.

El Salvador citizens are the first victims of both sides, persecuted by government forces and harassed by the criminals anytime and anywhere. Police forces and soldiers appear to be unprotected; they are chased by hitmen and their families are threatened because of their line of work.


El Salvador.com shows casts several doubts over claims that the most of the victims are ‘mareros’: “Prosecution data showed that until November 18 ‘gang members’ made up 24.17 percent of all murders at that time,”it wrote.

In addition, the police informed that gangsters were only “30.55 percent of the 5,629 homicides reported during that period”. This total fails to represent even the half of the victims of the war that were declared by the country’s president.

El Salvador’s civil war resulted in collateral damage to the country as extrajudicial executions saw gang members intent on revenge. One of the country’s most notorious tragedies, the San Blas massacre, saw members of the government forces executing innocent people with their motive being purely that they suspected those caught in the crossfire to form part of gangs. Besides, the new elite groups created to fight gangs directly, “bring a bitter reminder to the Salvadoran people, because during the civil war they were responsible for massive human rights violations, to the point that they were dissolved after the conflict”, says Prensa Libre.

Far from being an isolated problem, it has once again attracted the U.S. government’s attention. A U.S. businessman based at the embassy in El Salvador, Michael Barkin, told La Página that the country’s government is deeply concerned about the increase of violence in the country . Due to the current situation. the country has advised that citizens avoid travel to El Salvador.

“We are commited to working with authorities and institutions to improve the investment climate. We have four years to work on it and to find ways to convince new investors to come,” he said.

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