El Salvador. The criminal leagues (“maras”) continued during the year to be the country’s biggest domestic political problems. Admittedly, the number of homicides fell by 60% in the first quarter compared to the previous year, but especially after September, the violence increased significantly again in the whole country. On average, 28 people were murdered per day, and September 23 and 27 were the worst days of the year so far, with 40 and 34 murders, respectively. Particularly affected were the police forces; not in conjunction with concerted actions against the gang but in individual assaults, especially in the provinces of San Salvador, where the capital is located, and La Libertad. President Salvador Sánchez Cerén explained the increase because the gang was so pressured by the government’s countermeasures that desperation increased. However, the allegation has been repeatedly repeated by sitting presidents and was met with skepticism this time too. National Police Chief Howard Cotto pointed out that the main reason for the increase in homicides was probably that several marauders had made peace among themselves and instead began to cooperate in their actions against the police, politicians, prosecutors and mayors. This was especially true of the Revolucionarios and Sureños factions in the largest mara gangs Barrio 18 and MS 13. Another reason was obviously that President Donald Trump, through a presidential decree, increased the deportation of Salvadoran mara members from the United States to El Salvador by 13% during the first year of the year. four months. Historically, similar measures by the US President have always resulted in increased crime in El Salvador. Ironically, the 25th anniversary of the end of the civil war was celebrated in January and many talked about the fight against crime as a second civil war.
According to Countryaah.com, violent crime also penetrated into the political and administrative sphere. For example, José Elías Hernández, a former mayor and member of the right-wing Alliance Arena (Republican National Alliance), was brought to trial for conspiracy with Barrio 18 and for having ordered murder from them. Another mayor was arrested June 20 for having paid MS 13 to influence election results in his favor. Death squadrons with members of the police force and the army were also targets for the police department. In June, for example, four police officers and ten soldiers were arrested in eastern El Salvador, accused of a total of 36 murders between 2014 and 2016.
Among the few good news for many Salvadorans was Pope Francis’s appointment of Gregorio Rosa Chávez as the country’s first cardinal in the Vatican. It seemed as if the appointment came on the same day that Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, close friend of Cardinal Rosa Chávez, was assassinated by a right-wing death squadron in 1980.