El Salvador’s outgoing president has blamed a spike in homicides on a faction of the 18th Street gang, and the details of his claims reveal a more complex power structure at the heart of the violence.
Appearing on his weekly radio show “Speaking to the President,” Mauricio Funes — who steps down in June — said, “One of the gangs (…) decided to break the truce, or at least begin to stop fulfilling one of the commitments agreed to, and I refer to the 18th (Street) Gang.”
Funes was referring to a spike in violence that has included rising killings and attacks against police units in recent weeks.
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Funes then added an important nuance to his analysis: that within the Barrio 18 gang exist two major factions — “Los Revolucionarios” and “Los Sureños”; he blamed the latter for the attacks on the police.
According to the government’s forensics unit, there are close to 10 homicides per day, reported El Mundo. This figure is much higher than the 5.4 per day registered following the implementation of the truce in March 2012, but still lower than pre-truce levels of around 14 per day.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Funes administration is clearly vexed by the recent attacks on police and rise in murders in general, but it is divided over who to blame and how to push the process forward. Funes focused on one faction. But his Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo has placed the blame at the door or the gangs’ entire imprisoned leadership.
The comments by Funes are just the latest to swirl around the truce process and give the impression of an initiative on its deathbed, with personalities within the police, the church and the government all heralding its demise.
While Perdomo has recently proposed an attempt to establish a more inclusive peace process, another group, which has been working with the gangs from the start, has pushed for a continuation of the current process.