It has not been a promising start to the new year for the levels of murders and violence in El Salvador. Although the level of murders declined slightly in 2007 when compared to 2006 (but expect ARENA to take full credit for being on the "right path"), the newspapers have been filled with a round of killings in the country.
Last week five people were shot dead by unidentified attackers in the department of Santa Ana, in western El Salvador, police said. According to police, four adults and a 14-year-old boy were shot numerous times as they chatted late Sunday in front of the home of one of the victims in the town of Argentina. Preliminary investigations appeared to indicate that none of the victims had ties to criminal gangs, and the motives for the crimes remained unknown.
Police also said in a separate incident one 11-year-old boy was killed on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador, as he amused himself in a playground with other children.
After a prominent gang chief of MS-13 was killed, 176 gang members were arrested at his wake in a raid by police in San Salvador.
Headlines were also made when the FMLN mayor of the town of Alegría in Usulutan Department was gunned down along with another town official:
The mayor of the eastern Salvadoran town of Alegria was shot and killed Wednesday by unknown assailants while riding in a vehicle in the company of a municipal employee.
Wilber Moises Funes, 33, took office in May 2006 and was a member of the leftist FMLN, El Salvador's main opposition party.
A spokesman for the FMLN, national lawmaker Sigfrido Reyes, told Efe that Funes was traveling early Wednesday in an official vehicle along with municipal employee Zulma Rivera when unknown assailants intercepted them and opened fire.
A source at Alegria's town hall told Efe that Funes and Rivera, who was in charge of contracts and purchasing, were heading to a site to supervise the construction of a sports facility.
The police do not have any suspects in the murder. As we have seen with other murders before, it is not difficult to imagine political motives but there might be another story. Just as with the murders of journalist Salvador Sánchez, Lutheran pastors Francisco and Jesus Carillo, the parents of Mariposa Manzanares, and Gilberto Soto, the absence of credible police investigations creates suspicion and uncertainty and perpetuates the atmosphere of impunity.