August, the bloodiest month in a decade in El Salvador logo-noticias.cd3...

At least five bus drivers were murdered during the last week of July by gang members from Barrio 18, the objective being the boycott the public transportation.

August, the bloodiest month in a decade in El Salvador

August, the bloodiest month in a decade in El Salvador

911 people were killed in the country during the last month. Justice prosecutes gang members as "terrorists".

At least five bus drivers were murdered during the last week of July by...
At least five bus drivers were murdered during the last week of July by gang members from Barrio 18, the objective being the boycott the public transportation.

By Efren Lemus  @efrenlemus  from San Salvador

When Raúl Martínez arrived at Redondel Nicaragua, a traffic circle north of El Salvador’s capital, more than 800 wooden crosses had been pounded into the lawn, surrounding a statue of César Augusto Sandino, the Nicaraguan revolutionary.

Among the wooden crosses there were two placards with a message for the public safety authorities: “895 of us have died in August. How many more of us must there be before you do something?”

Those who placed the crosses and placards protesting the increased rate of homicides in El Salvador were mistaken. There hadn’t been 895 victims of violence. According to the latest report from the Institute of Forensic Medicine, the figure was 911 Salvadorans murdered in August, a figure that gives this month a record for violent deaths during this century. On average, 29 homicides each day. There was one murder every hour.


The statistics – and the news – about the violence in El Salvador were so strong and overwhelming that many communities and many Salvadorans have turned silence into a protective shield in reaction to the fear.

Raúl is one of them. He works for the city government in San Salvador and his daily work consists of mowing the lawn, pruning trees and planting flowers in public places in the capital city. On the morning of Tuesday, September First, nevertheless, the mission given to him and other workers was to go remove the wooden crosses and the green placards with the white letters.

-Did it take you long to remove the crosses?

-No, they were quickly removed.

-And who put them there?

-That I don’t know, and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you. That’s what I’ve said to my close friends. That’s how the situation is and it’s best not to talk… It’s best to avoid problems.

What Raúl calls “the situation” is in fact a chain of events that turned August into the most violent month so far during this century.

From gang members to terrorists

During the four days prior to the beginning of the month, Manuel Sales, Mauricio Renderos, Juan Cruz, Elías Meléndez and another unidentified person were murdered. They all had worked driving buses or microbuses and, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, the crimes had been ordered by the Revolutionary faction from Barrio 18, one of the principal gangs in the country, with the intention of boycotting the public transportation service.


The gang accomplished its objective. Between 27 July and August First, several public transportation routes went on strike as a result of the death threats against the bus drivers.

While the buses were safely kept on the premises of the transportation cooperatives, the sidewalks along the nation’s capital were crowded with students, vendors and employees who needed transportation to get home or to go work.

The threat of boycotting public transportation remained latent toward the second week of August, following vacations during celebrations in the nation’s capital.

The Prosecutor’s Office then became proactive and ordered the arrest of 308 gang members, whom it accused of the felony of “ aggravated terrorist organization.” Days later, the Chamber for Constitutional Matters of the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law and rendered the opinion that the gangs are organizations against whom that law may be applied because they control territories and exercise practices that instill terror in the population.

Nevertheless, neither the arrest of 308 gang members nor the state’s discourse about enforcing severe laws against the gangs prevented an increase in homicides during August.

The first sign of an escalation in the violence became apparent on August 16th when the police reported a confrontation with gang members in the canton of Panchimalco, south of the capital. After the shootout, the deceased bodies of five young people were found inside a small dwelling with walls of sheet metal.


That day ended with 40 homicides and many Salvadorans believed it was going to be the most violent month of the year, but they were mistaken.

On Monday, August 17 th, the police reported 42 murders and, on their front pages, some newspapers were saying that indeed this was “the most violent month of the century,” but they too didn’t have it right.

According to the report from the Institute of Forensic Medicine, August 23 rd was the worst day: on that Wednesday there were 52 homicides, one murder every half hour.

The maelstrom following the truce with the gangs

When was it that maelstrom that raised the daily average for homicides from 14 to more than 40 began?

Luis Enrique Amaya, international consultant and researcher in matters of citizens’ safety, is of the opinion that its cause relates to the fact that “ the truce with the gangs was handled very poorly at the start, and especially, at its termination. The way in which the truce was terminated may have invited, in great measure, conditions for having what we now have.”

The truce consisted of negotiations between the gangs and the government of former President Mauricio Funes, conducted in March of 2012. During this process, the gangs agreed to a reduction in homicides in exchange for having 30 of its leaders transferred from the maximum-security prison to other jails with less stringent controls.

The immediate effect of the truce was a drop in homicides: from a daily average of 11.9 it fell down to 6.8.

Amaya is coauthor of the study “The truce among gangs as a form of intervention over violence,” where he analyses facts between January of 2010 and July of 2014 and estimates that the truce prevented 5,501 murders.


“This is probably the most successful truce in the entire western hemisphere, there is no record of a truce this successful in lowering the number of homicides or as prolonged in its duration,” says Amaya.

According to the study, the drastic reduction in homicides is the result of the negotiations between the gangs and the government because other variables that have an influence on there being more or less crime (being marginalized, poor and unemployed) were kept stable.

In comparing the processes in truces with gangs that have taken place in other countries such as the United States, Jamaica, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago, Amaya says that after a reduction in homicides, “ a boomerang effect” takes place that causes homicide figures to revert back to the original rates and, in some cases, it causes the rates to increase.

“What we were predicting with the information up until June of 2014 is what I believe we are seeing now,” says Amaya.

The government of Mauricio Funes never gave recognition to the negotiations with the gangs, even though it attributed to itself the reduction in homicides. Afterwards, with the change of government, there was also a change in policy for public safety.

In February of 2015, the cabinet presided over by President Salvador Sánchez Cerén rejected any dialogue with the gangs as a way of solving the problem of the homicides, ordered the transfer of the gang leaders to the jails and announced that he was placing his bets on programs such as the Community Police for recovering territories controlled by the criminal gangs.


For Amaya, one of the mistakes made by the authorities was the abrupt closing down of the channel of communication with the gangs. “The gangs have been aided in generating a more focused hatred toward the State. The State, in the way in which it broke the truce, may have contributed to generating a discontent that in some way ends up facilitating an understanding among the gangs that directs them against the State.”

That explains, for example, the increase in the murder of police officers, members of the military and prison guards.

Is there some way of avoiding a repetition of the average of almost 30 homicides per day during the month of August? Amaya believes that a possible solution would be to resume the dialogue, but not so openly because of the issue of the questioned legitimacy of the government.

The power of the gangs is based on their community strongholds. I see it as paradoxical that this is not understood by former guerrilla fighters (some of whom are now in the Government).

Nevertheless, that possibility seems remote. The official discourse is that most of the 911 Salvadorans murdered during August were gang members and, therefore, terrorists.

“I would say that more than 85 percent of us who are observing this believe that they are members of gang-like structures,” said Defense Minister David Munguía Payés, the architect of the truce with the gangs in 2012.  

“If the percentage of deaths in the month of August were mostly among terrorists that is beneficial for the country,” wrote Legislative Assembly President Guillermo Gallegos in his Twitter account.


Lea en español:  Agosto, el mes más sangriento de la década en El Salvador.

Contenido Patrocinado
En alianza con:
En la industria lechera de Wisconsin, en el cinturón oxidado de EEUU donde arrasó Donald Trump, más de la mitad de los trabajadores son inmigrantes y la mayoría de ellos no tienen documentos. Ningún ciudadano estadounidense se ofrece para el trabajo duro que ellos realizan.
In the dairy industry in Wisconsin, at the heart of the Rust Belt where Donald Trump won by a landslide, more than half of the workers are immigrants and most of them are undocumented. No American citizen wants to do the hard work they do.
Brian Latell, former chief analyst at the CIA, talks about his work tracking Fidel Castro and how the revolutionary leader placed agents in his classroom to spy on him.
Cómo el exdirigente cubano logró llevar a la gloria el béisbol de la isla y cómo no pudo evitar que todo se echara a perder por la huida de algunos de los mejores peloteros.
How Fidel Castro's plan to save Cuban baseball unraveled. The once mighty amateur baseball champions have lost much of their talent in recent years to U.S. Major League Baseball. Now the Cuban government is in discussions with MLB to stop the desertions. But will a Trump presidency make that more difficult?
El vicepresidente electo dijo en una entrevista con la cadena ABC que hace años que el Pew Research Center encontró evidencia del voto fraudulento, mientras que el presentador George Stephanopoulos le rebatía sus argumentos.
La aeronave, de la compañía Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), realizaba el trayecto entre la ciudad de Chitral e Islamabad. Por el momento no se saben las causas del accidente, pero las autoridades informaron que no creen que haya sobrevivientes.
El general en retiro apareció en el segundo mitin de la ‘gira de agradecimiento’ del Donald Trump en Fayetteville, Carolina del Norte.
Además, Barack Obama defendió su legado contra el terrorismo y criticó las posturas de Donald Trump, también desechos marinos están afectando a más de 800 especies animales causando pérdidas de 13 mil millones de dólares en todas las costas del mundo.
La fundación Sandy Hook Promise realizó esta emotiva campaña donde una vez más alerta sobre uso de armas en las escuelas.
Según las autoridades, el cuerpo de la pequeña Yuliana Samboní mostraba signos de tortura y violación cuando fue encontrado.
La policía y un asesor del Ministerio de Justicia colombiano hacen efectiva la captura de Rafael Uribe Noguera en una clínica donde está internado el acusado de asesinar y violar a la niña de 7 años Yuliana Andrea Samboní. La casa donde fue hallado el cadáver de la menor es propiedad de la familia del sospechoso. Los agentes llegaron a ella siguiendo la pista de un vehículo que aparece en un video de seguridad.
Además, continúa aumentando el número de víctimas del incendio ocurrido en durante una fiesta en Oakland, California y también, Ben Carson fue nominado por Donald Trump para ocupar el Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano.
La malinterpretación de una vieja entrevista a su director, Bernardo Bertolucci, generó una gran polémica y llevó a grandes medios a afirmar que Marlon Brando violó a Maria Schneider en la famosa escena de sexo de 'El último tango en París'.
La excandidata presidencial del Partido Verde anunció que le pidió a una corte federal de Pennsylvania un recuento de votos.
Alexander Schultz atravesó los 711 pies que separan la Torre Bancomer y el edificio Torre Reforma a unos 780 pies de altura.
Dictan cadena perpetua a Justin Ross Harris por el asesinato de su hijo
La víctima, de 22 meses de edad, murió en 2014 luego de que su padre lo dejara en un auto por múltiples horas.
Atacante yihadista de París grabó el asesinato del policía y su pareja
El presidente francés François Hollande atribuyó el ataque a una "acción terrorista".
El "Mannequin Challenge" llegó a la Casa Blanca (y ni Michelle Obama pudo resistirse)
Los campeones de la NBA, los Cleveland Cavaliers, estuvieron de visita en la Casa Blanca y no podían dejar pasar la ocasión para ser tendencia. Tras ser recibidos por el presidente y su esposa decidieron hacer el popular "Mannequin Challenge".
¿Se atreverá? Kate del Castillo ya puede viajar a México sin miedo
Código Segura tiene todos los detalles de cómo va el proceso en contra de la actriz mexicana con respecto a la investigación de su encuentro con el narcotraficante 'El Chapo' Guzmán.
Kansas City frenó a Raiders y le arrebató el liderato de la AFC Oeste
Los Chiefs dominaron a la ofensiva de Oakland y le propinaron su tercera derrota de la campaña empatando su marca de 10-3 en la cima.
Los Chiefs congelaron a la ofensiva de Oakland y Kansas City ganó 21-13
La defensiva de los Jefes contuvo a Derek Carr, Amari Cooper y Michael Crabtree y Tyreek Hill se encargó de poner los puntos necesarios para darle la victoria a su equipo en Arrowhead Stadium donde se alzaron con el liderato de la AFC Oeste.
Toda la información y noticias sobre lo último del fútbol mundial
Los Bulls cortan racha ganadora de los Spurs con gran actuación de Rondo
Los Spurs buscaban empatar el récord de los Warriors de juegos seguidos ganados como visitantes, pero no pudieron con los Bulls que ganaron 95-91.
Fashion Gurús: Los Detectives de la Moda vs. Milennials ¿quién tiene la razón?
En los Premios Juventud más "retro" enfrentamos las opiniones de los expertos Milennials contra los expertos de la casa, ¿quién te gustó más?
El talento de Univision viajó en el tiempo en Premios Juventud 2016
Una vez más, nuestro talento brilló en la alfombra. ¿Quiénes te gustaron?
El show en fotos: Mira el Mega Reventón Retro de Premios Juventud 2016
Disfruta de una gran retrospectiva que celebra lo mejor de décadas pasadas junto a Pitbull, Gente de Zona, Enrique Iglesias, Chino & Nacho, Daddy Yankee, Prince Royce, CNCO, Magneto ¡y muchos más!
Premio Lo Nuestro 2016: Ganadores, alfombra, musicales, ¡todo el show!
Disfruta lo mejor de la 28va edición de Premio Lo Nuestro y no te pierdas todo lo que ocurrió durante las actuaciones estelares de tus artistas favoritos durante la ceremonia.