The administration of El Salvador President Mauricio Funes is taking steps to assume a bigger role in the management of the truce between Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, despite continuing to deny that it is negotiating with gangs.
At a meeting organized by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC on April 18, Funes stated that the government should respond to gang leaders’ demands to make the truce sustainable, although he maintained this was different from negotiating with the leaders, reported El Faro.
The same week, El Faro observed a meeting between the Vice Minister of Public Security, Douglas Moreno, and MS-13 and Barrio 18 leaders in Illopango, El Salvador’s first “peace zone.” In the meeting, Moreno told gang leaders that the government had earmarked over a million dollars to support Ilopango’s pacification program. This included redirecting resources from various government agencies for programs to help gang members and their families with employment and education.
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Funes’ shift seems to stem from growing demands from many in El Salvador and the international community for the government to take a more visible, proactive role in the truce, especially in light of the government’s lack of transparency about the process.
Given that El Salvador is seeking funding from international actors — including the United States — to fund social reinsertion programs for gang members, the government will need to show donors its commitment to, and oversight of, the process.