The days of Holy Week in El Salvador are filled with religious observations, vacations and trips to the beach. The time is also filled each year with tragedy and grief as the rate of fatalities from homicides and accidents surges. As I noted previously, the vacation weeks of Christmas, Easter, and the August festivals of El Salvador del Mundo, are the weeks with the highest homicide rates.
According to La Prensa Grafica, the sad statistics for Holy Week 2005 included 166 deaths:
- 66 from shootings
- 19 from knife attacks
- 47 from traffic accidents
- 36 from drownings on the beaches
The murders combined to bring the total homicide rate for March up to 233 persons according to the National Police, with a total for the year of 785 homicides. The law enforcement authorities try to put the best spin on this number by pointing out that the number of murders in March was lower than the totals for either January or February. On the other hand, the total for the first three months is now 193 murders higher than the same period in 2004.
Against this backdrop of violence, the president and legislature continue to debate the provisions of a gun control law. Measures being considered include banning persons from carrying pistols and revolvers on buses and limiting the number of firearms a person can purchase each year.