Violent deaths in El Salvador decline in November

Looking for any glimmer of improvement in the wave of murders which has hit El Salvador this year, Salvadorans heard from the PNC yesterday that "only" 139 people were murdered in the first ten days of November, for an average of 13.9 per day.   This compared to an average of 22.7 per day during October.

While acknowledging this was a reduction, Howard Cotto of the PNC cautioned that it was too early to be labelled a trend.   While refusing to disclose particular police strategies, Cotto believes that actions by security forces are having a positive effect.

At the same time, Cotto dismissed the idea that the reduction in homicides represented a response by the gangs to the call of the IPAZ churches for the gangs to cease their violent actions.  The churches, for their part, see the reduction in homicides as a response to their call for peacemaking.

Cotto repeated the claim of the government that most of the victims and most of the killers were gang members.   However, past reviews have shown that homicides are rarely investigated thoroughly enough in El Salvador to support such claims.