Respondents expressed optimism about community police.

A survey in El Salvador revealed both overwhelming opposition to gang negotiations and mixed feelings about the country's police force, a snapshot of public perceptions of security in one of Latin America's most violent countries.

According to a survey conducted by the University Institute of Public Opinion in El Salvador, over three-quarters of respondents are against the government negotiating with the country's gangs.

Meanwhile, a third of all respondents indicated that they thought police were involved in criminal activity, while 34 percent said the police protected citizens and 26 percent said they believed the police force contained a mix of both. An overwhelming 90 percent of respondents stated that purging the national police was either very or somewhat urgent.

Although only a fifth of respondents said they had a lot of confidence in the national police, 60 percent believed the deployment of community police would improve security.

In terms of the country's overall security situation, 69 percent of respondents said they thought that crime increased in 2014, while nearly 22 percent reported having been the victim of a crime. Although the numbers remained small, the percentages of respondents who moved (nearly 5 percent) or had a member of their household leave the country (8 percent) due of threats doubled in comparison to the previous two years.  

InSight Crime Analysis

Public opposition to the gang truce appears to be in line with government policies. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren's administration has indicated that it will not publicly support negotiating a new gang truce after the peace deal forged under the president's predecessor fell apart following an initial drop in homicides. When reports emerged at the beginning of November that the National Council for Citizen Security (CNSCC) was evaluating the possibility of opening dialogues with members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 gangs, council members were quick to discard the possibility.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

In terms of El Slavador's security forces, the lack of public trust in the national police is understandable. Corruption in the police force is a pervasive problem in El Salvador, where both United Nations and journalistic investigations have revealed links between the country's drug trafficking groups and security forces. On the other hand, there appears to be a great deal of optimism about the new community police force, which was deployed in capital city San Salvador in August and has been tasked with using the input of local communities to address crime. 

Meanwhile, the two-fold increase in the percentage of respondents who had a member of their household leave the country because of threats likely reflects one of the major factors that has precipitated a flood of child migrants from Central America to the United States over the past year.   

Investigations

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

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...