Assessment of Funes' administration crime policy
There is a critical assessment of president Funes' public security policy on the NACLA website written by Sonja Wolf, a post-doctoral fellow at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Here is an excerpt:
The soldiers’ presence has provided the population with an illusion of security but achieved no overall reduction in homicides and invited sporadic reports of abuses. Nevertheless, in May 2010 the army’s mandate was extended for another year. The government expects the army to curtail arms and drug trafficking in 62 previously unguarded border areas. An additional 1500 soldiers have been sent to the prisons to guard the perimeters and search personnel and visitors entering/exiting the facilities.
El Salvador’s jails suffer from inhumane conditions, acute overcrowding, and deficient rehabilitation programs. Furthermore, pervasive corruption has facilitated the introduction of money, weapons, and cell phones, the latter routinely used to transmit orders to street-based gang members. The military is meant to step in and sever all communication between the inmates and the outside world while the prison system is being purged.
The Funes government’s repressive turn may satisfy public demands for an end to crime and violence, but can fuel greater corruption and abuses among the army. Military intervention in the prisons in particular is likely to incur the wrath of gang members who wish no interference with their criminal activities. Moreover, the army’s deployment diverts some $10 million from other state institutions and risks deflecting attention from the urgent need to strengthen the justice system.
Even with the best of intentions the cash-strapped Salvadoran state would have found it difficult to come to grips with the host of structural problems it faces. The Mejicanos massacre, however, has only intensified pressure for immediate solutions to the violence. The indignation caused by the attack has closed the little political space that existed for prevention and triggered a revival of the same populist measures that were fruitless under previous administrations. (read more).