Categories
International Relations Security

El Salvador’s Gang Truce: A Lost Opportunity?

A graffiti of the street gang “Mara Salvatrucha”, also known as “MS 13”. Image: Walking the Tracks/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by openSecurity on 18 May 2015.

Violence is escalating again in El Salvador. March 2015 was the most violent month in over a decade, and the government is preparing army and police battalions to fight the gangs. These trends mark the definitive end of a process which started in 2012 with a truce between the two main gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—and evolved into a more complex and multidimensional approach to reducing violence, with a degree of international support.

The process was complicated, imperfect and subject to public controversy but it stands as one of the most significant examples worldwide of an effort to reduce violence through negotiation with criminal groups. With an annual homicide rate of 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. It is also a notable example of the trend towards non-conventional, hybrid and criminal violence.

Categories
Security Development Conflict

Urban Battlegrounds: Dystopian Futures or Complex Realities?

A man in a dark Karachi alley. Image: Ebtesam Ahmed/Flickr

From Kobane and Raqqa to the streets of Mexico City and beyond, cities are increasingly being perceived as urban battlegrounds – places where the world’s next wars will be fought between traditional armies and non-state actors. In this respect, there’s nothing coincidental about the fact that these ‘battlegrounds’ are primarily located in the ‘developing’ world. It’s here where most of the world’s urbanization is taking place. For many, rapid urbanization means living in informal settlements. It also means increased exposure to high rates of crime, violence and limited opportunities for human advancement.

Categories
Journalism

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha

This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan
This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan

ISN Security Watch correspondent Samuel Logan has just released his first book, “This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” (Hyperion Books), a non-fiction narrative about Brenda Paz and her last three years of life.

Paz was a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who became a federal informant before she was killed after running away from witness protection.

“This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” uncovers little-known truths about the MS-13, one of America’s most violent street gangs, and reveals how the street life can be alluring. It also takes a close look at the the realities of living inside the US as part of a Latino immigrant community, underscoring the challenges with policing these communities and the fluidity of illegal movement across the US-Mexico border.

The book has been optioned by Paramount Vantage Films.

More of Sam’s extensive work about the MS-13 in ISN Security Watch:

Tri-state trouble with Mara Salvatrucha

Mexico’s Parallel Power

Prison Gangs and Organized Crime