Showing posts from June, 2013

Looking deeper at gang truce

InsightCrime has a section of its website devoted to the various aspects of the El Salvador gang truce including this video from the inside of the Cojutepeque prison which houses Barrio 18 gang members. InsightCrime lists several positives and negatives of the truce. The positives:   1) Less homicides   Undoubtedly, the greatest benefit of this truce has been the startling drop in homicides. From a murder rate of 72 per 100,000, El Salvador now hovers around 36 per 100,000. There are questions about disappearances and manipulation of murders statistics, but even the most skeptical observers agree that homicides are much lower.  The drop in murders has also helped illuminate the breadth of the gang problem. Prior to the truce, gangs were thought to be responsible for some 10 to 30 percent of the homicides in El Salvador. The new homicide rate gives us an indication of exactly how many are getting killed because of the gang phenomenon  2) More trust among key stakehol

1960 s industrial El Salvador

I was recently pointed to this video by the oil company Esso which features El Salvador as an almost unrecognizable modern, industrializing powerhouse of Central America. Watch the video in conjunction with this video from 1954 El Salvador . Hat tip to Programa Velasco for finding the 1960s video.

The death of Roque Dalton

El Salvador's great revolutionary poet, Roque Dalton , was murdered on Mother's Day in 1975.  The exact circumstances have long been unclear, except that he was executed by members of his own revolutionary movement, the ERP, because they allegedly believed he was a spy. According to the LA Times, in a story titled  Secrets revealed in the death of Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton , an interview in a new documentary about Dalton's life describes the execution and the trigger man: According to the Salvadoran magazine  Contrapunto , Leisch’s film includes an interview with a man who was present at the execution, then-ERP-militant Porfirio Hernandez. On May 10, 1975, Dalton was being held prisoner by the urban guerrilla group at a San Salvador safe house. On that day, Hernandez said, he left the safe house briefly (to visit his mother) and returned to learn the ERP had already executed a man who was being held with Dalton, Armando Arteaga. Hernandez then saw Joaquin Villal

Coffee blight threatens crops and livelihoods

A outbreak of a fungal blight affecting coffee plants known as "coffee leaf rust" is threatening the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in Central America including El Salvador.  An  article from the Christian Science Monitor  describes the problem: [T]his time is different, experts say. The aggressive outbreak has extended to more than 70 percent of coffee bushes in Guatemala and El Salvador, 64 percent in Costa Rica, and lesser amounts in Nicaragua and Honduras, according to a May 13 report by the International Coffee Organization. Regional coffee production fell 17.1 percent in the past October-to-March season, and it is likely to fall 30 percent to 40 percent in the coming season, which begins in October.  Increased migration?  In Central America, with a total population of 41 million, nearly 1 million seasonal and permanent coffee workers are expected to lose their jobs next season.  “Each of these jobs are providing for six people. You do the math,” said

El Salvador -- in the best light

This video containing beautiful photos of El Salvador by Raul Arce with music and narration in Spanish could be the best video tribute to all the country has to offer.

Gang truce in Honduras follows El Salvador's model

Last week the Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gangs signed a truce in Honduras, modeled on the one in El Salvador.   Again, persons from the Catholic Church were involved in mediating the agreement. Blogger Boz wrote about the new truce in the region in his blog : 1. The truce is unlikely to have the same level of success in Honduras as it did in El Salvador. Even those brokering the Honduran truce admit that. The gangs in Honduras are more diverse with less centralized leadership. There are also other actors involved in the crime and violence, including the Honduran police, that complicate the issue.  2. Let me add a bit of caution to that first point. Many analysts, myself included, underestimated the potential success of the Salvadoran gang truce when it was first reached. I did not expect the truce in El Salvador to lower the violence by nearly half, nor did I think it would remain so solidly in place over a year later. I'd be happy to be similarly wrong about Honduras i