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There are an estimated 25,000 gang members at large in El Salvador with another 9,000 in prison. [1] The most well-known gangs, called maras in colloquial Salvadoran Spanish, are Mara Salvatrucha and their rivals Calle 18; maras are hunted by death squads including Sombra Negra. New rivals also include the rising mara, The Rebels 13.[2] Criminal youth gangs run lives in El Salvador with an estimation of at least 60,000 young people belonging to gangs.[3] Today, El Salvador experiences some of the highest murder rates in the Latin America; it is also considered an epicenter of the gang crisis, along with Guatemala and Honduras.[4]

Gang member
MS-13 gang member with tattoo of gang name on his back

Reasons for joining gangs[edit]

Salvadoran young men decide to join a gang for several reasons. Sometimes this is understood as a choice, but also because of feeling neglect and abandonment from family or as they don't belong anywhere except where violence occurs. Juan Fogelbach argues that General risk factors associated with gang membership include: poverty, family disintegration or separation, neglect, violent domestic environments, unemployment, scarcity of educational and developmental opportunities, and family membership in gangs. The presence of one or more of these factors may compel an adolescent or child to turn to gangs in hope of finding a familial environment, social status, and economic opportunities.[5]

Gangs[edit]

M-18 and MS-13 are the largest and most known gangs in El Salvador. They are also known as 18th Street, and M-18 was formed in the 1960's by Mexican-American youth in the Rampart neighborhood of Los Angeles, Califomia." [6]

The 18th Street gang, originating in Los Angeles, California, has proliferated in San Salvador. The Mara Salvatrucha is a rival gang. In 2002 crime rates skyrocketed and the municipal government was unable to combat the rise.

Violence[edit]

Gangs contribute to the generally high levels of social violence in El Salvador. They engage in different serious criminal acts in which terrorize and paralyze society. Homicide and extortion are the most publicized crimes, along with now reporting gangs that are contributing with Mexican dmg that has been spreading throughout Central America. [7] There are different forms of violence constructed in El Salvador such as political, everyday, gender, and structural violence. The post-war in El Salvador constructs with the political violence El Salvador must have everyday. Gender plays a role with the feminist movement that women and children keep quiet about violence, and structural violence is everyday violence that results different deaths and accidents that society must deal with. [8] There are high levels of brutal violence in private spheres, such as abuse of women and children. Gender roles shape in gang violence, where woman are tortured and they are not allowed to voice anything. [9]

MS-13 presence – light-red indicates territories with a lighter presence, dark-red indicates territories with a strong presence

Links to drug trafficking[edit]

MS-13 and M-18 have an unknown relationship with drug traffickers. El Salvador police report that traffickers are cultivating ties and building alliances with gangs that would eventually be about to help them mature into international syndicates. The dmg business has been growing with more gangs becoming involved with them and now disputing over territory with the dmg traffickers. [10] The United States is made up of 10,000 members of the MS-13 gang, who are involved with the transnational criminal networks of drugs, weapons, and violent gang culture. [11]


Impact on youth[edit]

Some criminal gang members are "jumped in" or have to prove their loyalty by committing acts such as theft or violence. Youth gangs are a major source of concern for society. [12] Targeting the youth constructs a circle of violence, where fear becomes a legitimizing agent for increased repression and puts all the attention on the youth, and away from other types of embedded violence. [13]

Prevention[edit]

Recent efforts by mayor Norman Quijano to restore public safety have been somewhat successful. Security measures in San Salvador's most troubled Districts (5 and 6, which border Soyapango, and are home to many gangs) included safety campaigns and recreational activities to keep youth from joining gangs. The mayor also initiated a security camera program so the police can monitor the most heavily trafficked areas of the city. The project was launched in the historic downtown and will expand throughout the entire city.[14] The government has set up countless programs to try to guide the youth away from gang membership; so far its efforts have not produced any quick results. One of the government programs was a gang reform called Super Mano Dura ("Super Firm Hand"). Super Mano Dura had little success, and was highly criticized by the UN. It saw temporary success in 2004, but then saw a rise in crime after 2005. In 2004, the rate of intentional homicides per 100,000 citizens was 41, with 60% of the homicides committed being gang-related.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "In the New Gangland of El Salvador," New York Review of Books, 10 November 2011, p.46
  2. ^ "Número de Víctimas y Tasas de Homicidios Dolosos en El Salvador (1999–2006)" (PDF) (in Spanish). Observatorio Centroamericano sobre Violencia. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  3. ^ "Criminal Youth Gangs Band Together to End Violence in El Salvador."
  4. ^ a b Ribando, Clare (2005-05-10). "Gangs in Central America" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  5. ^ Fogelbach, Juan J. “Gangs, Violence, And Victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, And Honduras.” San Diego International Law Journal 12.2 (2011): 417-462.
  6. ^ Fogelbach, Juan J. “Gangs, Violence, And Victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, And Honduras.” San Diego International Law Journal 12.2 (2011): 417-462.
  7. ^ Fogelbach, Juan J. “Gangs, Violence, And Victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, And Honduras.” San Diego International Law Journal 12.2 (2011): 417-462.
  8. ^ "Mothers/Fighters/Citizens: Violence And Disillusionment In Post-War El Salvador." Gender & History 16.3 (2004): 561-587
  9. ^ "‘(Young) Men With Big Guns’: Reflexive Encounters With Violence And Youth In El Salvador." Bulletin Of Latin American Research 26.4 (2007): 480-496.
  10. ^ Fogelbach, Juan J. “Gangs, Violence, And Victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, And Honduras.” San Diego International Law Journal 12.2 (2011): 417-462.
  11. ^ "In fighting gangs, US should look to El Salvador." Christian Science Monitor 28 Dec. 2012: N.PAG
  12. ^ "‘(Young) Men With Big Guns’: Reflexive Encounters With Violence And Youth In El Salvador." Bulletin Of Latin American Research 26.4 (2007): 480-496.
  13. ^ "‘(Young) Men With Big Guns’: Reflexive Encounters With Violence And Youth In El Salvador." Bulletin Of Latin American Research 26.4 (2007): 480-496.
  14. ^ [1][dead link]

Category:Crime in El Salvador