“The Weekender” is our new feature where every weekend we hope to highlight a short film, movie or documentary pertaining to the Americas. We’re showing our latest entry today in order to make up for the lack of posts in the last few days.
One of the main concerns for Central American countries affected by high levels of is how to properly combat gang violence. Such is the case with El Salvador where governments past and present have largely failed in implementing successful policies against street gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha-13 (MS-13) and Barrio 18. The Mano Dura ("Iron Fist") strategy championed by then-President Francisco Flores in 2004 took a tough approach against gangs but ended up backfiring. A 2012 truce between the MS-13 and Barrio 18 helped lower El Salvador’s murder rate last year but homicides have spiked since the pact apparently ended months ago.
While President-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren takes office in June and Salvadoran church leaders look into brokering a new truce, the gang violence problem will likely continue to be front and center in that country. A potential approach that has not been applied as public policy is to emphasize rehabilitation of gang members away from a life of crime and towards something more meaningful. Another underused strategy is emphasizing education among the very young in order dissuade being allured into the world of street gangs.
The latter method is employed by the Fundación CINDE nongovernment organization. Below the page break is a film from that foundation that depicts their work in El Salvador:
Video Source –YouTube user FundacionCinde
Online Sources - Reuters; Sustainable Security; InSight Crime