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By Luis Miranda, The Real Agenda
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Violence rages in El Salvador

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 7:45
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(Before It's News)

Nothing remains from the gang truce that began in 2012 with the tacit acceptance by the Government and supported by the Organization of American States and the church. Peace lasted 15 months, during which the homicide rate dropped from 15 to five murders a day. Since early 2014, amid a tense atmosphere of conservative opinion against dialogue with the bands, the leftist cabinet of former President Mauricio Funes, was changing attitude towards the peace process and blocked the mechanisms that facilitated it, primarily to allow meetings in prison between gang leaders. Today, with a broken truce, the situation worsens. March was the most violent month in this century so far with 481 murders. The third month of 2015 also saw an increase in the extortion against business owners, who are worried about what might be a sign of a new hardline strategy against gangs. On Saturday morning, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, ordered the army to create three battalions for immediate action to tackle crime. Hours later, nine gang members were killed in a clash with soldiers. At night a sergeant was shot at his home and on Sunday morning another soldier was killed in an ambush. On Monday morning more soldiers were attacked. One died and two were injured. In the case of fights between gang members and the Army, official information indicates that a group of about 30 members of the gang called “Barrio 18” was detected by military in San Salvador and the gang opened fire on them. The result: nine deaths, all of them belonged to the gang. Photos circulating on social networks show the dead gangsters in pools of blood with guns aside. The reviews of users differ: some say they are “mounted images” for gang members to appear with weapons; others express their pain because they have died young; others, conversely, are glad that these young people have died. It is a sign of the polarization of perception in this Central American country of six million inhabitants, one of the most violent in the world with a rate of 60 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. “We are entering a war scenario between gang members and the Army. It is extremely dangerous,” says the expert on violence Jeannette Aguilar. “One risk is that many of these actions against gang members are being done outside the law, and when there are actions out of the law civilians will always be affected. Do not forget that large sections of the population are marginalized precisely where gangs have proliferated,” she adds. President Sanchez Ceren has given evidence indicating a worsening pattern of repression of crime. On Monday, at a public hearing, it was reported that 30% of homicides corresponded to clashes between the National Civil Police and the gangs. In turn, in so far this year, police reported the death of 22 of its members due to attacks from gangs. Aguilar notes that an increase in conflict can also be detected in the fact that in the last five years the Army has doubled its number of soldiers from 12,000 to 24,000. The military presence in the streets is becoming more noticeable, new Army units have been created and General David Munguia has announced an upcoming delivery of arms from the United States. Meanwhile, gangs harden their action. Its leaders no longer have the conditions they had during the truce, when they were transferred to regular prisons in a less severe regime. They even had phones to organize actions with their people. Now, they are in a maximum security prison known as Zacatraz, a name given in honour to the American prison Alcatraz and the name of the city where the detention center is located: Zacatecoluca. On April 18, a local newspaper published a confidential report in which intelligence revealed that gang members are trying to get more weapons and training to face the Army units. Read the rest below at the source link


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