A story behind the numbers

During the August festivals in El Salvador, the already high murder rate surged even more. A total of 88 persons lost their lives to violence between August 1 and August 6, an average of almost 15 per day.

A regular reader of this blog, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent in this essay about one of those 88 murders:

There can be no details in the story. It is too dangerous for the families left behind. But in the wee hours of the morning, a knock at a door in a small community ended with another young man laying dead in the pathway outside his home, leaving a girlfriend without her soul mate, a daughter without her father, a mother and father without their son, an extended family without their wage earner, a community without a leader, a church without a role model.

This story is not unique.

But this story is different for me because this man was like my son.

We met when he was a teen. He was being cool, flaunting a bit of English that he was learning in school. He became my unofficial guide to the community and we had fun trying to communicate. He squeezed in with the rest of his family in a small bed so I could have a spot to sleep. His first taste of peanut butter and jelly was with me. He drew me pictures that I keep in a scrap book. His mom is a dear friend.

One night, during our first visit together, he read something to me, so proud to read a bit of English:
I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far way in dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't wanna close my eyes
Don't wanna fall asleep
Cuz I'd miss u baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
Cuz even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing

As the teen grew into a young man, I worried. He lives in a place where one Salvadoran gang or the other do not give boys a chance to grow into men. He made a few style changes--fingernails, hair, clothing--that somehow gave him the appearance of being someone who he really was not and provided him a measure of safety.

He finished high school, worked steadily in a few different jobs. During one of my visits he wasn’t around much and his mom was worried. He was working as the fare taker in a micro bus on a route known for being dangerous to bus drivers. We thanked God when he got a job in a shoe store.

All grown up, my Salvadoran son moved in with his childhood sweetheart and after a while they had a baby. He was a tender and loving dad. His daughter looks just like him.

And now he is gone.

It’s complicated. He wasn’t supposed to be killed. It was a mistake. He did everything right; he was a good boy and a good man, and because of where he lived and the violence in his neighborhood--violence fed by poverty, injustice, and lies in the darkness--he is dead. Another innocent victim.

It’s complicated. Will there be justice for this young man? Will his death bring more violence or will something be ignited in the hearts of the people in his community to rise up and be a force for change, a force for peace?

I don’t know. But, I’m sad and I’m angry.

I’m missing you, baby.


Gatofilo said…
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Gatofilo said…
Tim, I'm sure we are all deeply sorry for the horrific loss of your close friend. As you put forth the tragic numbers of murder and mayhem from the so-called “Fiestas de Agosto,” I also mourn the senseless killings that go on and on with such carefree impunity in that suffering country of El Salvador.

El Salvador has become a lawless and sick land where society simply looks the other way and where statistics become mere faceless numbers, as the insane crime wave continues relentless and unnoticed until the eventual day comes when it hits close to home.

Tim, with the loss of your friend, who now joins the anonymous faceless numbers on a statistics chart, you also join with countless other thousands of victimized families who mourn their individual tragedies alone.

There is a foul sense of sickness that permeates a country where a government and a society simply turns a blind eye on murder and on the most vicious violence imaginable.

We all know that the loony left have vivid and colorful imaginations, so I’ll definitely be pending to see who this crowd of losers tries to politicize and blame on this occation.

They certainly can’t fall back on their usual nemesis by pointing fingers at the responsible authorities, now can they?

Best Wishes.
Griselda said…
All my empathy goes to this family who is now in deep mourning.
Sometimes, I wonder how many families will have to suffer or go through such painfull lost for EL Salvador's government -GOES- to make a drastic change.
Every unsolved murder is a tough remider of political willingness.
Thank you for sharing with us you feelings.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gatofilo said…
If the attitude and lack of response on this Blog, regarding a horrendous and senseless murder, in any way represents Salvadoran society, it is pretty clear that no one gives a damn.

Until perhaps the insane hatred hits close to home.

But then, should anyone really be surprised...

Best Wishes.
Mauricio said…

My deep condolences go out to your friend and the family of the young man that was like a son to him.
Gatofilo said…
Of course I'm angry, as well we all should be.

The uncanny lack of any governmenetal action to control the out of control crime wave in in El Salvador, certainly emphasises the notion that these FMLN clowns in fatigues have only ascended themselves to their level of incompetemce.

Their silence is certainly elocuent.

Best Wishes.
Gatofilo said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gatofilo said…
The government of El Salvador, and the people's passivity and inaction in the face of so much crime has me fuming. Everyone should be angry. This is hedious!

When Mauricio Funes was simply a pencil pushing TV analyst with all kinds of colorful and pointed political commentaries, he had all kinds of smart ass questions and suggestion for the ruling ARENA party, but now that he is president; nothing, no new conference, no explanations as to the out of control crime wave, nor the economy, La Longitudinal de Norte, Cutuco, the flu pandemic... All the public gets is silence and a lot of nothing, absolutely nothing.

Matter of fact, this ruling non government avoids the press like the plague. It's as if there was no government at all; none, … none whatsoever. ... Nothing at all.

I guess it's true what is said, "That it's easier and a lot more fun being the opposition." The FMLN as a political party has obviously been ascended to their incompetence.

Clearly the masses who voted for these geriatric blowhards deserve better, much better.

The press also needs to go back to square one and ask questions, even though the non government evades and tries to hide. We need answers!

A government needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way. But in this case, El Salvador is dealing with a non government.

Best Wishes.
Basta de Casaca said…
You have to be retarded (or a right-wing/redneck.. he, he, he, he, same thing) to expect and demand the 2 month old Mauricio Funes/FMLN government to achieve in 2 months what the ARENA dictatorship COULDN'T achieve in 20 years with regard to crime.

Long live the ignorant and the hypocrite ! What would the right-wing do without them?
Griselda said…
if elections were today, I would still vote for FMLN.
Gatofilo said…
To friends Griselda and Samuel:

And to quote your own quote:

"Long live the ignorant and the hypocrite! What would the Left-wing do without them?"

Obviously fanaticism has no bounds.

There's an old saying I heard somewheres: "El que se muere de su gusto, aunque lo entierren parado."

Oh, and if you miss the mayham and ancharchy of your country, what are you doing here? Now thats "Hypocritical."

Best Wishes.
Gatofilo said…
Tim, sadly, "The story behind the numbers" is clearly collective ignorace.

The ignorance is so widespread, that I'm not surprised that so many millions sneak across our borders trying to survive, instead of staying home and working for a better and more just country of their own

Best Wishes.

I hope they at least learn that lesson from us; the greatest nation on earth.
Griselda said…
Y dale una otra y otra vez,

"...Oh, and if you miss the mayham and ancharchy of your country, what are you doing here?...."

Mother of perls...First of all..How many times I got say to you I AM NOT IN YOUR COUNTRY????

I thought you speak/understand English?? Comprende"s"?

secondly, as you one time said to Samuel, you are "ZERO" "nothing" "nada" to me, so next time you want to comment make sure my name is not in it whatsoever. You just come here, make ignorant assumptions on ppl, offend them, for the only reason they don't share your point of view.
So many years in education for nothing, not respecting everyone's approach. You think you fool ppl with your badly, nonsense worded comments. Only illustrate how discriminatory, hatemonger YOU ARE.

God bless El Salvador and US.

And If I were given the chance to vote in USA, I would vote for Obama
Gatofilo said…
Listen Griselda, honey... the only reason I write to you is to answer your comments to me. It's called "politness." Comprende.

Now me personally, I could care less who you would vote for and as for me, if I were to vote it would probable be for Mickey and Minnie Mouse. You see, the big difference between politics in your country and your adopted country is that here in the U.S. we have a constitution that we all respect and it serves as a common guideline to where we are going.

In El Salvador, there is no mention of the constitution because no one cares. Your presidents run the country into the ground as if it were their own personal property and they are accountable to no one.

Every 5 years, you have a new government with new ideas that in no way resemble the last government, and so your country never gets anywhere. Every 5 years to start over with a new stupid plan of total insecurity, so the foreign investors simply stay way.

Investments need a secure environment where there are no big surprises. El Salvador could be capitalist one day and marxist the next. That's crazy.

Be whatever you want, but be it. And stay home and try to make a better and more prosperous country of it. The U.S. is the most bountiful and gracious country in the world, and we will help you.

So if you are marxist, capitalist, nazi, socialist, or libertarian, good for you and go for it. But stay home, with your tacos, pupusas, yuca con chimbolos, pastelitos, or whatever, OK.

Best Wishes.
Gatofilo said…
And talking about Illegals and current public opinion:

The current worldwide Economic Meltdown is a "Great Opportunity" to Fix the Illegal Alien Crisis that has plagued this country for much too long.

In their rush to dole out a trillion dollars to fund liberal pet projects in the name of stimulating the battered economy, the Democrat-controlled Congress and President Obama failed to address a major domestic crisis that threatens America's homeland security, social order, and cultural heritage, and which costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

The issue is the unchecked invasion of our sovereign land by scores of millions of illegal aliens, mostly from the failed states south of our border.

Ironically, many of the concerns voiced by liberals could be mitigated, at least partially, by aggressively working to solve the illegal aliens mess.

Concerned about education and overcrowded class rooms?

Removing 12-38 million invaders would reduce class sizes dramatically, and improve the quality of instruction by weeding out illegals unable to keep up because of language and cultural barriers.

Concerned about overcrowded prisons and jails and the need to spend hundreds of billions to erect even more?

Approximately 30 percent of all inmates are illegal aliens, people who should not even be here to begin with.

Concerned about run away health care costs and the tens of millions whom are uninsured?

A disproportionate percentage of illegal aliens are uninsured and do not otherwise pay for their heath care, although they somehow manage to send billions a year back to their homelands. Medical services not paid for by illegals are dumped on the backs of Americans who belong here.

Concerned about violent crime, drugs, gangs and the general deterioration of the rule of law?

In addition to the crime of being in America unlawfully, illegal aliens exacerbate crime in this nation.

Concerned about the loss of jobs and reduced standard of living for working Americans?

Illegal aliens undercut American citizens by working for lower wages and without benefits. In effect, they steal jobs from real Americans.

Perhaps the president and his colleagues in the Democrat party should set the example by taking advantage of this unique opportunity to end, and reverse, illegal immigration, a crisis that plagues the nation's economic, social, cultural, and educational systems?

Yes we can!

Best Wishes.
Tim said…
Gatofilo and Griselda:

Let's try and keep the comments on topic. Griselda -- feel free to go to Gatofilo's blog and comment all you want on his ideas. Gatofilo -- reducing your number of comments would be appreciated. You are drowning out other voices. Comments on the blog are not a contest. You don't get a prize for commenting the most or always having the last word.
Gatofilo said…
You see Griselda, Dear, now we're seen and addressed as a couple. Just what I was worried about!

And Tim, believe me, I'm definitely not interested in any prize! What could you possibly have that would interest me? Ridiculous!

My comments have only been in response to the barrage of misinformation so prevalent on your blog. But if you're content supporting a lie, that's your perrogative and I certainly won't be the one to chop down your shade tree.

As the old saying goes, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up." Ignorance is bliss.

Best Wishes.
Griselda said…

Just what I was afraid of, my bad but it is really hard to focus when there is such a narrow-minded person implying ofensive comments such as "GATO PELADO".
But no worries, I didn't even know he had his own B*** blog, next time I will just ignore him.

Could you please tell your friend I really appreciate her essay!
Anonymous said…
hi Tim,

Great blog! firstly I have linked your blog to mine. hope you visit mine.

Sympathies to your friend who lost someone so close to their heart. I agree with other comments that El Salvador is almost chaotic due to the violence caused by 'maras' or gangs and other criminals. Its imperative that the government addresses this issue and finds solutions that will cement peace for the people of salvadoran in the short and long term.

I have read and seen it too many times where critics of FMLN and President Funes as well as opposition party members of ARENA and other parties like PCD have had the odassity to criticise publicly, condem, disparage and reproach President Funes on "not dealing with or solving the problems of violence and crime" in El Salvador.

ARENA was in power for years did NOTHING to solve the problem. They made a big song and dance about the great 'mano dura' or hard hand approach to maras/gangs and it was laughable. If anything the problem got worse because now these maras have moved on to extorsion and condemning small business owners to paying "rent" each month just to keep their families alive.

Funes and the FMLN have only just got into power, yes they are expected to deliver on their promises on all aspects of El Salvador's economy, education, health, community development and safety and a lot of things have already being delivered such as free medical care at the public hospitals. It is only natural to get the easy deliverable promises out of the way in order to tackle the greater problems. President Funes and the FMLN need time. As the great saying goes, it wont happen over night but it will happen if they do as they say they will.

But to have people say "its been 2 months or 3 months and nothing has changed" well how about asking ARENA "What did you actually do while you were in power?". ARENA did a lot of things... dollarised the salvadoran economy which has benefited NO ONE except the owners of exporting businesses and the factory owners who can offer their products at sweatshop rates. It did NOT make el salvador more competitive with developed nations.. it only joined the ranks to compete against the new slave generation nations like most of asia where people work 12, 14, 20 hour days for nothing and earn barely enough to eat twice a day let alone buy a home or a car or keep their children in school long enough to give them a chance in life.

Someone wrote that President Funes was nothing by a pencil pushing journalist... well what about ex-President Saca who barely graduated highschool just because his family had money? As a journalist Funes had the political education of what was really happening in El Salvador and that is why he entered politics he could no longer stand back and report things that ARENA didnt want to change. President Funes joined FMLN not because he agreed with everything FMLN stood for but joined under the agreement and understanding that HIS individual ideas could be used to help El Salvador.

I support President Funes because a lot of his policies I agree with, they are policies that I have been soap boxing for years and finally there was a man in El Salvador who was speaking as if he read my mind and probably a lot of other people's which is why he won.

FMLN and president Funes need time to deliver on their promises and they cannot afford to let the country down. If they do it is for certain that another FMLN win will not happen in the near future. They need to prove themselves and deliver peace and prosperity to El Salvador and its people.
Unknown said…
Gatofilo´s posts clearly show that he is not to be taken seriously. He is nothing but a self-contradictory troll and a hypocrite.

For starters, he himself politicized the whole affair by mentioning, condemming, and insulting those with different views than his, funnily enough when musing how those on the left would politicize the situation.

Secondly, his other posts are liberal with McCarthystic rhetoric, leaving his own fears and weaknesses out in the open. Posts that constantly mention an apparently intolerable level of incompetence, on part of the left, to govern while completely ignoring that on a national level this is the first time, since the history of modern day Salvadoran "democracy" post-civil war, that a party other-than ARENA comes to power.

What makes things even worse, is that this same person dares admit that :

"Every 5 years, you have a new government with new ideas that in no way resemble the last government, and so your country never gets anywhere. Every 5 years to start over with a new stupid plan of total insecurity, so the foreign investors simply stay way."

Meaning, that he openly admits that for the last 20 years, El Salvador has been run without any clear direction in mind, no real projects, in any areas clearly planned, outlined and orchestrated, be it in areas of education, environment, security, healthcare, and that despite ARENA having 2 DECADES (that is 20 years) of continous governship has proved to be unreliable, inefficient, and grossly negible, with every single successive tenure starting as if were run by a completely different party.

So, one can only ask, why then, if someone is so aware of the lack of a total state-building plan by the previous governments, and ALL the resulting problems due to it, then why would that someone be too quick to criticize and condemn so the impending, and needed change of government? Is it out of malice or resentment?

In other words, you Gatofilo, readily become that which you allegedly despise, resort to that which you condemn. You are nothing more but a bigoted whiner.
Unknown said…
El Salvador has been definately hell-bent for decades, that is precisely what lead to the Matanza and the 80s' civil war. The crime spree that society experiences is simply the continuation of this trend of violence. Surmise that the apparent apathy adopted by the country is in part in due to the constant violence and bloodshed that the country has been immersed, the burnt of which the lower echelons of society suffer the most.

It is this culture of violence that has engendered individuals with low moral standards, that uphold in greater esteem selfish values of life, where subsistence, and personal gratification, trumping any sense of national solidarity, and empathy, unless of course it is limited to mutually shared tragedies and football. That is why decades of negligible governments have been tolerated after the war. "As long as I have food on MY table, everything is fine," has become the prevalent thought.

Suffice to say that the equation of social apathy, negligent government, lack of opportunities have created a country that is constantly worsening its situation, that chooses punitive measures, that simply worsen the situation by ignoring the foundations of the problem, and by retreating further onto itself (with fort-like houses, within fort-like colonies being the norm) fostering the distrust between neighbors (and apathy), and a false sense of security that is crippled out of the houses and isn't even available to huge sectors of the country.

That is because as the oligarchs/elites of the country have taught us, it is easier to ignore the problem than to deal with them, or that if it is not my problem then there is no problem, or if someone else's problem can benefit me then it becomes my opportunity. Reason why in this mismanaged country, private security firms are more and more taking over what public security should do, public security that is ill-equipped poorly trained, poorly staffed and with a propensity to commit crimes itself or foster impunity.

This is precisely why in El Salvador there is such a demographic problem, with too much population, and absolutely no plans that efficiently manages them, resulting in the constant messes we are in.

But I digress. This post of mine has turned into a ramble. Allow me to say to your friend, that please have my condolences, hopefully the change of government will be the first step to bring the changes necessary to stop this hemorrhage of resources (human and natural), and blood that the country has suffered. Perhaps with your loss you'll find the fuel needed to become even more involved with the "community", of which your "son" was part of, and try your best into changing it into something that fulfills a more humanistic and humane vision.
Jorge said…
I have to say that I am really loosing interest in this blog with the constant arrogant rants that Gatofilo carries on....

I mean, chill out matey, just let people be.... Dont be that guy, that ruins a great blog!