As Gang Violence Hits El Salvador, a New Wave of Disappearances

Hannah Stone, Christian Science Monitor, October 7, 2011

El Salvador is suffering a new wave of disappearances, mostly of young people and teenagers, who go missing without explanation in a phenomenon linked to the gang violence hitting the country.

Thousands of El Salvadorans disappeared in the country’s civil war. Some were children who were kidnapped and sent abroad for adoption, and some victims of death squads or the military who were buried in mass graves. Now, almost 20 years after the conflict ended, online newspaper El Faro says that disappearances are as much of an everyday phenomenon as they were during the war.

The police received more than 1,200 reports of disappearances between January 2007 and December 2008, and in the first four months of this year they registered 179–double the number in the same period in 2010. This is likely an under-representation of the true number of disappeared, as many families will not report their relatives missing, for fear of reprisals. {snip}

Some of the victims are likely to be found in the mass graves which are being found more and more frequently around the country, according to El Diario de Hoy. In August a mass grave containing more than 10 bodies was discovered in Sacacoyo, just outside San Salvador. Whileone government official said that these contain old corpses buried during the civil war, the Attorney General’s Office said that all of them had died since 2009. Forensic scientist Israel Ticas has been excavating the bodies, which are among more than 500 that he has been involved in removing from their clandestine burial grounds in the last five years.

Mr. Ticas attributes the killings to criminal groups, and notes the extreme cruelty of some of the killings, with one man appearing to have been buried alive. According to the scientist, some 95 percent of the bodies in these mass graves are aged under 17, and a majority are women.

{snip}

El Salvador had one of the highest murder rates in the world, at 64 per 100,000 according to some measures, and much of this is driven by gang violence.

{snip}

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  • Anonymous

    Just more of the same…fill our heads with the sob stories and then bring in all these “poor families” so they can do the same to your children.

    KEEP THE 3RD WORLD OUT OF HERE!

    They will always be the same no matter where they live. They are like blacks. Haven’t we seen this enough times in our own country yet when they cross our borders? How much evidence do we need?

  • Anonymous

    Well, just so they’re not disappearing THERE, and popping up HERE.

    Beyond that, it’s THEIR problem.

    Let them, and their problems, forever stay THERE.

  • fred

    Clearly we need more refugees from El Salvador. Does Catholic Charities know about this? Quick! Someone call them and let them know! I’m sure they’ll be chomping at the bit to sponsor them. After all, El Salvadorans are Catholic and the federal government actually pays them to take them in. They’ve got to pay off those lawsuits somehow.

    I apologize for the sarcasm. I’m not trying to lay all this on Catholics. There are plenty of other denominations who are just as bad. If you’re religious, please stop propping up those left-wing hacks. Join or tithe a conservative denomination instead. Believe it or not, there are actually some conservative Catholic groups out there. Stop being a chump and support them.

  • Justin

    The “gang problem” in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua is an extremely complex one. Many citizens of these countries know that it is out of control and are terrified of even letting local authorities know that they (or a relative or business associate) has been threatened, intimidated, etc. as they KNOW reprisals can be terrible. It is well-known that many shopkeepers, retailers, restaurant owners and other business people in El Salvador ARE forced to pay local gangs money for “protection” against rival or outside gangs–if they don’t pay, however, they risk getting their businesses burned or destroyed …or worse. At some point in the late 1990s, Honduran gangs “kidnapped” two public buses filled with people on their way home from work, set them on fire and did not allow anyone to escape. This was allegedly done in retaliation for Honduras’ then-government’s intense crackdown on gangs (particualarly the dreaded MS-13). Unfortunately, forcing these monsters to serve long prison sentences literally does nothing for anyone as the prisons themselves serve as training and recruitment grounds for future gang members and each generation of these has been more violent, vicious and bloodthirsty than the previous one(s).

  • Brendan

    El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala encouraged (tacitly or otherwise) their citizens to move up north to the USA illegally. The USA, however, regularly sends back those illegals who commit crimes, especially violent crimes. So, ironically enough, their more law-abiding citizens stay in the USA, filtered out by emigration, while the lowlifes end up flown back to the streets of San Salvador. A crime wave in major Central American cities ensues.

    The same is true for Mexico, of course. It’s just that Mexico is contiguous with the USA and is much larger, so it’s harder to keep Mexicans out. But the current drug war is caused in the same way.

    In other words, looks like their encouragement of illegal emigration to the USA bit them in the behind. I can’t feel too sympathetic for them…