Monday, February 11, 2013

El Salvador's Gang Truce at Eleven Months



Al Jazeera has a short video clip on the gang truce in El Salvador as it completes eleven months.

Americas Quarterly also had David Brotherton and Carlos Ponce respond to the question: Can the gang truce in El Salvador help improve security? Brotherton gets to answer yes and Ponce, as it has to be, say no.

Brotherton's article seems to address what has happened while Ponce's focuses a bit more on what might happen. That's just my basic take. I also had a different take on Ponce's last statement, however.
Negotiations between the government and gangs should cease immediately. Instead, a comprehensive approach to fight these criminal organizations must be designed and executed.
I see negotiations as one component of a comprehensive approach. The government can also target at-risk youth with programs, improve prison conditions, foster job creation, improve state institutions, and revamp how public security operates. While Ponce is a bit more concerned about how the gangs mutate as government takes a breath, I am hoping that the government can take a step back, breathe, and then approach gang violence in a more rationale manner. It wasn't possible when there were 4,000+ deaths in a year.

Even if the truce breaks down and violence escalates, I am hoping that the Salvadoran government is in a better position to respond to gang violence than it was one year ago.

You can read my recent take here for the Inter-American Dialogue.

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