The Los Angeles Times website describes the new documentary by Christian Poveda, La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life) and uses it as the centerpiece for a discussion about the causes and solutions to the gang problem:
That's a reality that Poveda feels a lot of Americans don’t know about and should.
“Americans have to realize how much damage the U.S. has done to this region,” he says.
Poveda, who lives in San Salvador and has worked as a photojournalist covering the country before, during and after the 12-year-long civil war that began in 1980, is talking from experience.
The current situation in El Salvador is one of the less-inspiring examples of the long-standing social and economic ties between the United States and Latin American countries, he argues.
Gangs were formed by Salvadorans living on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s. When the peace accords that ended the civil war were signed in El Salvador in the early 1990s, huge numbers of gang members returned to the country, some of them by choice but most of them through deportation by U.S. authorities. Many were sent back after completing prison sentences.
As Rocky Delgadillo, a Los Angeles city attorney, notes in this column for the L.A. Times, “this only exacerbated the problem, spreading gangs like a virus until they grew into transnational `super-gangs'.”
Poverty and a lack of opportunities in post-war El Salvador made the country a ripe recruiting ground. (more)
La Vida Loca has not yet been released in the US.