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  • Author: David C. Brotherton, Carlos E. Ponce
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: After decades of gang-related violence, resulting in unfathomable bloodshed and a worsening security crisis, change has come to El Salvador. One reason is the truce signed by the notorious street gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18—now nearing its one-year anniversary. In the process, El Salvador has transformed itself from a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world to a regional leader on solutions for combating gang violence. The outcomes of the truce are unequivocal. The homicide rate has dropped 60 percent, from 14 per day before the truce to five per day today. Extortion has declined by 10 percent and kidnappings have fallen by 50 percent, according to the Salvadoran government. And due to less punitive crackdowns on gangs, fewer young people are serving time in the most overcrowded prison system in Central America, where 27,000 inmates languish in institutions built for 7,000. Now residents in poor communities once paralyzed by fear and intimidation are again engaged in rebuilding a society still ravaged by the civil war that ended 21 years ago.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Central America, El Salvador