More comments on violence amd the military

A collection of statements about violence in El Salvador and whether there should be a role for the military in patrolling the streets:

[S]even member organizations of the Central American Coalition for the Prevention of Juvenile Violence issued a communiqué rejecting the participation of the Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES) in public security functions.
In the statement, institutions such as the Centeral American University Human Rights Institute (IDHUCA) and the Center for Orientation Training, among others, demanded that President Mauricio Funes not incorporate the Armed Forces in the National Civilian Police’s work, saying that this is unconstitutional.
They added that the previous presidents used the military to fight crime and that “this measure has been ineffective” and, in fact, homicides have risen.

Instead, they called upon Funes to strengthen the Police with financial resources and training.

These institutions disagree with the majority of officials and organizations linked to the left who have in fact supported [the use of] the Armed Forces in public security duties.
According to the director of the [National Academy of Public Security] ANSP, the presence of the Armed Forces together with the PNC will contribute to the creation of a sense of trust in the population. He explained that objective insecurity derives from the real quantity of crimes committed in a nation and subjective insecurity comes from the perception of insecurity. According to polls, the population has expressed that it feels more secure with the military presence, then he explained that this would help lower levels of insecurity.

"To see the uniformed elements could contribute to eliminate subjective insecurity, that could help; but we do not believe that the army is going to reolve the problem of security in the country," he expressed and that the problem could be resolved with greater police intelligence, development of scientific investigation, "and that is, according to the Constitution, an exclusive monopoly of the National Civilian Police."


Supreme Court of Justice Magistrate Mirna Antonieta Perla Jimenez stated that involving the army in the fight against crime is not the solution to said problem.

“Sending the army into the streets is going to aggravate the crime problem, therefore fight the real causes of crime. Regrettably, thousands of people are arrested in the nation each day and this has not led to lower levels of extortion, murder, robbery, injuries, because the real criminals have not been fought in the first place,” stated Justice Perla.

Similarly, Perla said that it is evident that there are [criminal] individuals who are directly linked with the structures of [state] power.

“We have seen that even the police are sheltering criminals,” she said.

The desire to give these [public security] attributes to the Armed Forces practically ignores the history of the world, LatinAmerica, Central America and the recent case of Honduras, but especially Salvadoran history. It also ignores the military and public security recommendations made in the Truth Commission Report; furthermore, it ignores the constitutional reforms of 1992, the achievements of the social struggle won with the signing of the Peace Accords.

--The Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law (FESPAD)

There's a lot for president Mauricio Funes to contemplate as the country yearns for safety on the streets.

Thanks to Larry Ladutke.


Anonymous said…
Here in Mexico, where the military has been brought in for police duty, the reaction was initially positive, but between human rights abuses (I think El Salvador, like Mexico and the U.S. has a separate court system for the military, which makes crimes against civilians difficult to prosecute), a RISING death toll and suspicion of death squads in some communities, there is less and less support for military policing.

Unfortunately, once a country goes down that path, it ties up funding available for other types of justice and security initiatives (police training and hiring, better communications equipment, legal reforms, prison reforms, plain old-fashioned social service programs that lower the crime rate, etc.) and those that supported the proposition end up paying the political cost. And ordinary citizens often end up paying a much higher cost.
David said…
This is really VERY different than Mexico, where the military has been brought in to directly fight drug gangs, especially in the northern parts of Mexico. That's where the majority of human rights abuses are taking place.

How is this different than what's essentially occurred since the signing of the peace accords? Was there a period in which the military did NOT patrol alongside the PNC? Do we have lots of accounts of military abuses in those instances? If not, then I think the bulla over all this is a bit overwrought.