El Salvador's government denies the reality of forced displacements

The message was slipped under the door of their tiny home during the night.   Leave the community where they lived for years within 48 hours.    The note did not spell out what would happen if the family did not leave.  It wasn't necessary.    Too many people had been killed in their community already.    The family grabbed their belongings and left under cover of darkness.  Another family to add to the total of those forcibly displaced by gang violence in El Salvador.

The existence of forced displacement in El Salvador, or internal refugees, has been well-documented by nongovernmental organizations and the press in El Salvador for years.  Some of the more recent reports include a July 28, 2016 report by El Salvador's Human Rights Advocate (PDDH), two reports of  the Mesa de Sociedad Civil Contra El Desplazamiento Forzado (Civil Society Roundtable against Forced Displacement) covering 2014-15 and 2016, and a nationwide poll by the University of Central America released in January 2017,    

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of forced displacement, the government of El Salvador continues to minimize and even deny the existence of the problem.   In a recent interview in Revista Factum, Fatima Ortiz, of the Office for Attention to Victims in the Ministry of Justice repeatedly minimized the problem, rejecting the reports listed above as not representing the statistics of the government, and suggesting that sometimes people just want to relocate to somewhere else.   By not acknowledging the problem, the government permits itself to not deal with caring for the victims.  

Somewhat curiously, the UN agency responsible for dealing with displaced persons, the UN High Commission on Refugees, made a statement last week giving the Salvadoran government more cover.  As reported in LPG, Agni Castro Pita, the UNHCR representative in El Salvador, asserted that forced displacement was not a massive phenomenon in El Salvador.  His position seems somewhat to be a matter of semantics, with Castro Pita wanting to limit the term "forced displacement" to situations in which the displacement was part of actions to assert territorial control or as a product of internal conflict.  

The motives of the government were summed up by Dagoberto Gutiérrez, vice rector of the Universidad Luterana Salvadoreña:
La guerra social es tratada como un problema de delincuencia y los delincuentes son enfrentados por la PNC y el ejército; por lo tanto, que el gobierno  acepte oficialmente que existen desplazamientos forzados originados por una guerra social sería aceptar que ellos como  Estado han perdido el control social y están siendo sustituidos por fuerzas delincuenciales, llamadas pandillas o maras. 
The societal war [in El Salvador] is treated as a crime problem and criminals are confronted by the PNC and the army.   Therefore, for the government to officially accept that there are forced displacements caused by a social war,  would be to accept that they as a state have lost social control and are being replaced by criminal forces, called gangs or maras.