Suppossed gang lookouts in San Salvador

In a concerning development for press freedom in El Salvador, a top police official has called for the investigation of newspaper El Diario de Hoy on terrorism-related charges in response to a series of articles on the country's street gangs.

In a letter to El Salvador's Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de la República, - FGR), head of police investigations Joaquín Hernández urged Salvadoran newspaper El Diario de Hoy be investigated for being "apologists of terrorist acts," reported La Pagina. (See below)

16-01-13-ElSalvador-FGRletter

Hernández's accusations arise in response to a series of articles El Diario de Hoy published in December 2015 on El Salvador's street gangs.

One of the articles, titled "Gangs Control San Salvador," portrays El Salvador's capital-city as a gang-controlled battleground, and includes both a video and map detailing gang territory in the city. (See below) In another, "A Clique Controls the San Jacinto Neighborhood," El Diario writes, "The police do not escape gang control. In fact, they may be the most controlled."

In his letter to the FGR, Hernández calls the El Diario articles inaccurate, saying they give the impression "the capital is totally controlled by these criminal groups," and do not recognize the work of the FGR and police towards "preventing and repressing crime." This, Hernández argues, "magnifies" the gangs' presence in these areas, provoking "fear and terror" among the population, "which already lives terrorized by crime."

InSight Crime Analysis

Hernández's accusations against El Diario de Hoy follow an August 2015 decision by the Salvadoran Supreme Court to reclassify the Barrio 18 and MS13 as terrorist organizations, which the court held the gangs deserved for their systematic and organized used of violence.

Yet, in addition to gang members, the court's ruling categorized gang "collaborators, apologists, and financiers" as terrorists. It appears as if Hernández is suggesting El Diaro de Hoy falls into this category as a result of their reporting on gangs. Under El Salvador's terrorism law (pdf), those convicted of such a crime may face up to 10 years in prison.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

To be sure, Hernández is entitled to dispute the newspaper's coverage of the country's street gangs. But calling for an investigation of El Diario de Hoy under the country's terrorism laws is something different altogether, and raises concerns the laws may be abused by government officials to censor any press coverage or critiques of the country's deteriorating security situation deemed unfavorable.

Investigations

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

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...

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.

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...

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: '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...

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.

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...

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...

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...