Archbishop of San Salvador Jose Luis Escobar

A top Catholic Church leader in El Salvador said the truce between the country's two main gangs had not worked following the most violent month in the two years since the pact was signed.

Speaking at a press conference, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, said the truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 gangs, which was brokered by the government and a Church bishop, was "well intentioned, but did not work," reported El Mundo.

Escobar called on the incoming government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren to learn from the truce's failures and devise a new security plan that is "participative" and "transparent," La Prensa Grafica reported.

The archbishop's comments followed news that March was the most violent month in El Salvador -- registering 281 murders in the first 30 days -- since the truce was first signed in March 2012.

While the level of violence outstripped the previous monthly high of 256 murders during the past two years, it still remains significantly below pre-truce levels, which reached a four-year high of 413 murders in the January before the pact was implemented.

Truce mediator Raul Mijango denied the truce has failed, telling ACAN-EFE the gangs still had the "will" to continue with the agreement.

InSight Crime Analysis

The truce and the Catholic Church's role in it has been a divisive issue for the Church hierarchy since before the pact was even agreed.

While Bishop Fabio Colindres was one of the main mediators of the truce, he only joined the process after several other senior Church figures turned down the opportunity due to concerns over the plan. What's more, Colindres' role was widely perceived as an attempt by government brokers to legitimize the truce by providing the image of Church support without actually obtaining the approval of the hierarchy itself.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

Escobar's comments now mean the Church is firmly siding with the growing band of critics declaring the truce to be dead in all but name, in part due to violence levels that have been rising steadily for some months.

However, Escobar also took a conciliatory tone towards those involved in the truce by praising its intentions, and his remarks appear to be principally aimed at encouraging the new government of Sanchez Ceren to hit the reset button and develop new, more transparent, community-oriented solutions to the country's security crisis.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...