Monday, July 30, 2007


This is a picture of Marvin taken when I met him 6 years ago. It was easy to remember Marvin -- he was the boy who loved to jump on the bus with us when we were in his community. Yesterday, while working as a fare-taker on a bus, teen-ager Marvin was shot 7 times and killed instantly by a robber, becoming another victim of the senseless violence in El Salvador.

I don't know what to say in the face of such tragedy -- not just the loss of Marvin, but the countless other sons and daughters of El Salvador, whose lives are cut short by criminal violence.

Perhaps there is some hope to be found in these words of another victim of a murderer's bullet, archbishop Oscar Romero:

No, brothers and sisters,
El Salvador need not always live like this.
“I will tear off the veil of shame
that covers it among all peoples.
I will wipe away the tears”
of all those mothers who no longer have tears
for having wept so much
over their children who are not found.
Here too will he take away the sorrow
of all those homes that this Sunday suffer
the mystery of dear ones abducted
or suffer murder
or torture
or torment.
That is not of God.
God’s banquet will come;
wait for the Lord’s hour.
Let us have faith;
all this will pass away
like a national nightmare,
and we shall awake to the Lord’s great feast.
Let us be filled with this hope.
OCTOBER 15, 1978
From The Violence of Love, available for download


El-Visitador said...

I am sorry to hear about the boy.

This is why El Salvador needs to double or treble the number of policemen on the street: so we can have as many cops per citizen as Washington (700 cops per each 100,000 people) or Chicago (470 cops per 100,000 people).

Right now, at 16,000 officers, we have about half as many cops per citizen as Philadelphia. No wonder El Salvador is such a dangerous place.

Anonymous said...

yes this is tragic event,but is also another statistic. One way to eliminate this problem is to ban fire arms altogether and bring back the death penalty. All other atemts to quell the violence is futile.

ivy said...

My heart goes out to you and the people of your congregation who knew this young man, as well as his family and the whole community in El Salvador.

inner-self said...

what saddens me the most is that while violence is universal, the judicial system could be way better. it is imperative that criminals are prosecuted and punished, for one to take them out of the streets, two so that potential criminals contain their violent activity and three for the sake of justice. super mano dura is though of as a failure because even though police pratolling was intense, prosecution failed to do its part and try and punish the arrested. therefore, it has since alwayz, been no secret that one of el salvador's most necessary and urgent investment is in its justice department.

Anonymous said...

I used to be against the death penalty and believed in rehab of criminals. But to shoot a young unarmed boy seven times shows that some people are beyond salvation of any kind and if let out on the street, will only kill again. I also agree that the system of justice that now exists in ES lacks the courage to really deal with the gang members.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to hear these kind of cases repeating themselves everyday in El Salvador and you do not hear a single voice demanding for the goverment to do something to stop this violence. It's very sad.

Rusty said...

I agree with El Visitador. The rule of law is not present in El Salvador, and it begins with the police on the street, and perhaps even more importantly, investigators. I read somewhere a few years ago that El Salvador had fewer investigators per person than any other central american country. The government should invest heavily in hiring more police, especially investigators, perhaps through municipal security programs like the one in Antiguo Cuscatlan to prevent corruption and politicization on the national scale. The government should also invest in education and provide free education at least until 11th grade to get all of the unemployed 14-17 years old off of the streets and into a school. This age group of young men are the fodder on which the older gang recruiters prey, and these young men (and women) don't have many other prospects in life without an education so the gangs are more appealing to them.