Salvadoran Administration Rules Out Negotiating with Gangs

first_img Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes’s administration will not sit down to negotiate with gangs that agreed in March on a truce that has led to a decrease in homicides in the country, Deputy Security Minister Douglas Moreno stated in Washington, D.C., on June 21. “We don’t have a reason to sit down” to negotiate, Moreno said at a press conference. The country’s two leading gangs, the violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Mara-18, agreed in March on a truce mediated by the Catholic Church that has caused homicides in the country, one of the hemisphere’s most violent, to decrease from 14 a day to five. Upon celebrating the first 100 days of the truce on June 19, MS-13 vowed to find “a definite solution” to the problem. Funes’s administration has been careful to distance itself from the process, however. “The Church will be the one to continue intervening between them,” Moreno said. Nevertheless, the administration recognizes that the truce is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of to combat violence, according to the deputy minister, who is visiting Washington, D.C. in search of resources for a project of “labor parks” that will provide jobs to gang members who embark on the process of social reinsertion. In the U.S. capital, Moreno met with business leaders and members of Congress and planned to meet with representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS). “We’re going around explaining our plan and seeking resources to make it viable,” said Moreno prior to the meetings, indicating that the first two community centers are under construction in areas of El Salvador where they will be able to provide services to around 1,500 people. As part of the administration’s efforts to promote an agreement that could make it possible to return gang members who have not committed serious crimes to productive life, President Funes has undertaken a series of meetings with mayors, business leaders, churches, universities, and unions. Slightly over 10,000 gang members are being held in El Salvador’s prisons for various offenses, according to official data, while around 50,000 remain free. By Dialogo June 25, 2012last_img read more