Can El Salvador’s private sector play a role in violence prevention?


Gang member paints over graffiti as part of social reintegration program. Photo: EL MUNDO / TULIO GALDÁMEZ

El Salvador is one of the world’s most dangerous nations due to the war between the Mara Salvatrucha 13 and 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18). In March 2012, imprisoned leaders of the two largest street gangs announced a truce, thus leading to the suspension of violent conflicts between the two gangs. The leaders also announced that they would cease-fire in school zones, end forced recruitment, and stop extorting or “taxing” the small businesses that operate in their communities.

Since the truce in 2012, the National Civil Police (PNC) registered 2,675 murders; compared to the 2011 PNC figure of 4,371 homicides, according to EFE news agency. The number of people filed missing decreased as well. However, according to an article, 876 people disappeared in the first quarter of 2012, with more than 600 of those taking place since the truce went into effect. Additionally, the article states that since the truce, gang members have now begun to extort large businesses and prey increasingly on bus drivers and other transportation employees.

Experts say the current truce opens the door to a tremendous opportunity: Salvadoran society, government, private sector, and international donors should move quickly to use the pause in violence to help create social service and job programs in some of the poorest and most gang-ridden communities. Nonetheless, it still remains a challenge for businesses to deliver goods and services to gang-controlled neighborhoods.

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Legal dispute over the dismissal of four constitutional judges in Honduras


In a press conference in which they read a joint statement, Jose Antonio Gutierrez Navas, José Francisco Ruiz Gaekel, Gustavo Enrique Palma and Rosalind Cruz Bustillo lamented the process that ended in the final hours with their separation from the Constitutional Court. Photo: El Heraldo

The constitutional court judges Antonio Gutiérrez Navas, Rosalinda Cruz, Gustavo Bustillo and Francisco Ruiz Gaekel were dismissed for voting against the decree 89-2012, which established mechanisms for debugging,  toxicology tests, and examining psychological and financial records prior to joining the National Police. That decision resulted in tension between the Executive, Legislative, and the Judiciary branches since the decrees were proposed by the Executive and Legislative branches as a means to solving the serious issues in Honduras of insecurity and unemployment.

In regard to the ruling, President Porfirio Lobo Sosa was appalled; interpreting that decision as a personal vote of distrust in his administration and declared the Court as public enemy of the state of Honduras. Additionally, he reiterated that the separation of the four judges from the Constitutional Court determined by Congress was a legal act.

Article 314 of the Honduran Constitution states that Supreme Court judges can only be dismissed by death, incapacity that impedes them from working, replacement for legal reasons, or resignation. For that reason, Human Rights Minister, Ana Pineda, said that the dismissal was a “flawed” legal act, and that the judges should be reinstated.

The four judges declared that impeachment by Congress was “illegitimate, illegal, and unjust”, because it was clearly due to political reasons, not legal. They also announced that they will move forward with legal proceedings because this decision violated their constitutional rights to due process, to defense, to be heard, as well as other nationally and internationally recognized safeguards.



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This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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