Disturbances in Santa Tecla leave one dead and many wounded

It has happened before.   It will happen again.   When a local city government attempts to relocate the places where informal vendors hawk their wares in the crowded streets of a city, conflict develops.   This time the location was the city of Santa Tecla, a middle class suburb to the west of San Salvador.   When the ARENA led city government of Roberto D'Aubuisson, Jr. announced that it wanted to relocate informal vendors from one street in the center of Santa Tecla, violent protests ensued. 

It was not immediately clear who was to blame for the violence.  At the end of the day, more than 50 people had been wounded and one killed, as protesters threw rocks and security forces responded with force including bullets.   This report from LaPagina offers photos from the disturbances as well as links to video on Twitter where you can hear gunshots and see people running away. 

The security forces involved were from the municipal police or "CAM."   Their policing duties are generally limited to protecting city buildings and providing security in municipal markets and parks.   They are under the direction of the mayor's office.   Because of the prominence of D'Aubuisson, Jr. from ARENA as mayor, critics from the left and the FMLN were quick to condemn the use of force by the CAM agents as unnecessary, and oppressing people in poverty who simply wanted to make a living for their families during the approaching Christmas season.

In response, D'Aubuisson held a press conference along with the ARENA mayors from San Salvador and Antiguo Cuscatlan to assert that the use of force was justified and in response to provocations and that the protesters had been damaging property which needed to be protected.

This type of violent protest is a recurring event in El Salvador. Informal vendors set up stalls on sidewalks and curbside in the streets in the clogged centers of cities. The quantity of vendors swells during the Christmas season. Mayors try to impose some order on the chaos which is violently rejected. When Nayib Bukele was mayor of San Salvador he tried to improve the situation with his new Cuscatlan market, but that effort has largely been a failure as vendors did not relocate to the market in any significant number and on several visits I have almost never seen a customer shopping with the small vendors.


Don said…
I frequent the cuscatlan market and always see lots of people there. Also, bukele renovated several other markets, built the cuacatlan market, and provided security for the historic dowtown area. He was able to relocate the vendors without any violence. He also did it for a reason. He renovated the historic downtown. In daubisson's case it isn't clear why he was removing the vendors. His complaint was that they were criminals and needed to move. When pressed on the issues Daubisson became very defensive and within the same sentence that the ganga were to blame, that FMLN and Bukele's party Nuevas were to blame. The Cucatlan nmarket will become less popular over time as the new mayor Ernesto Muyshondt (arena) allows its conditiobs to deteriorate.
Don said…
I also think that it is important to understand the reason why it is important for informal vendors to move off of the streets and into formal commercial areas. One of the major issues is extortion. In Bukele's case he gave the vendor's the option to formalize and provided security. He also renovated the entire downtown area to bring in more potebtial customers. He had a wholistic plan to improve situation. But he didnt get the opportunity to see it all the way through. Daubissoun on the other hand just went and started kicking people off the street and shooting them. A journalist was grazed by a bullet and a kid was shot and died. That is a failure. I don't think what Bukele did can be considered failure.
Don said…
Also, this type of thing is common under the direction of arena mayors. Daubbison did exactly what Norman Quijano did in San Salvador. It is not common for other parties and especially Bukele.
Don said…
One last thing, I think that there is a gross lack of patience being afforded to the Cuscatlan market. El Salvador isn't exactly a booming economy. The vendors weren't exactly killing it out on the streets, either. Any commercial operation in El Salvador requires patience and being able to weather hard times. So, to call the Cuscatlan market a failure within the first couple years of its existence is unfair in my opinion. It needed more time. However, the new mayor, Muyshondt (arena), isn't going to let that happen. He is going to abandon it so that it looks like a failure. That's a pretty horrible thing to do for the sake of just making a political rival look bad. However, when it comes to shooting people and beating people with sticks and giving them the fire hose, we always find lots of patience. We get the oh well this type of thing happened but hey it always does and always will. Why do the violent mayors get more patience than Mercado Cuscatlan? Daubisson should be put in prison for murder. If you ask me that's the story here. You don't respond to rocks with bullets. A family is going to a funeral today because Daubisson told his CAM to go down there and get them off the street regardless of how they do it. That's state violence against its own citizens. That is a failure.
Wow, is clear to me that Jefferson should be the owner of this blog; instead of the current owner. Jefferson's perspective is more realistic regarding these type of problems in El Salvador communities. The more serious subject is that there was a person assesinated in cold blood and the Mayor is fully responsable for this act. Justice in El Salvador DOES NOT EXISTS. I recommend to read about the "RAIS" case (EL FARO DIGITAL) to have a better understanding of the reality in the country.