It's complicated

Many times when people ask me to answer a question about El Salvador, I start by saying,  "Well, it's complicated."   A perfect example of that is the story of  Dany Balmore Romero García.   Dany Romero was arrested last year as part of Operation Check,    He was reputed to be a former MS-13 gang member turned human rights activist, and many protested his arrest at that time.   Yet wiretaps leaked to El Faro, suggested that Romero had not left his gang involvement behind him, leaving me to write a post titled "Who to Believe?"

A preliminary hearing in the Operation Check case commenced today for almost a hundred defendants from MS-13 including Dany Romero.    We may learn more from the two weeks of testimony expected to be presented. In the meantime, Nicholas Phillips has written a thorough portrayal of Dany Romero and all the complexities of his life which was published at Insight Crime with the title  The Allegory of El Salvador’s ‘Dany Boy’: MS13 Gang Leader, Activist, or Both?

Phillips describes the tightrope walked by Romero in the complicated world of someone who may (or may not) be attempting to put gang life behind:
Indeed, Dany Romero is an outlier. Few homies achieve as much as he has. They never get flown to Europe for a conference, or negotiate with a government, or receive public support from a diplomat. He entered a rarefied world. But at the same time, he stayed tight with the gang. It would be like standing on the shore and placing one foot in a boat: Sooner or later, the laws of physics demand that you choose. Dany Romero tried not to choose, to remain in both. Eventually, he fell.
Read the rest of Phillips' article here for its excellent look at why everything about gangs, government, and policing in El Salvador is complicated.