Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Murder in El Salvador

The wave of murders rolls on unabated in El Salvador. This week there were twenty-three murders recorded in a single day, Saturday, June 18. Then William Lopez, striker for the Allianza football team was murdered by suspected gang members. Bus drivers have been shot for refusing to pay taxes demanded by gangs who control their routes. Even the conservative El Diario de Hoy admits that El Salvador is now one of the most violent countries in Latin America as measured by its murder rate.

The government appears to have no idea what to do to stem the violence. A plan was proposed on Tuesday to treat as "terrorists" anyone who commits a murder for the purpose of striking terror into families or communities. It is not clear how this step would impact the crime problem.

El Diario reports that murders are committed almost with impunity in the country, because only 20% of murders ever result in arrests. The overwhelmed police and prosecutors cannot begin to do an adequate job of investigating the crimes.

Finally, the crime wave has also seen an upsurge in the number of women murdered. La Prensa Grafica reports that in the first third of the year 108 women were murdered, putting the country on a pace to easily exceed the sad statistic of 260 women murdered in 2004. Amnesty International chose to highlight the growing level of violence against women in its 2005 country report on El Salvador.

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