Sunday, July 11, 2010

Assessment of Funes' administration crime policy

There is a critical assessment of president Funes' public security policy on the NACLA website written by Sonja Wolf, a post-doctoral fellow at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Here is an excerpt:

The soldiers’ presence has provided the population with an illusion of security but achieved no overall reduction in homicides and invited sporadic reports of abuses. Nevertheless, in May 2010 the army’s mandate was extended for another year. The government expects the army to curtail arms and drug trafficking in 62 previously unguarded border areas. An additional 1500 soldiers have been sent to the prisons to guard the perimeters and search personnel and visitors entering/exiting the facilities.

El Salvador’s jails suffer from inhumane conditions, acute overcrowding, and deficient rehabilitation programs. Furthermore, pervasive corruption has facilitated the introduction of money, weapons, and cell phones, the latter routinely used to transmit orders to street-based gang members. The military is meant to step in and sever all communication between the inmates and the outside world while the prison system is being purged.

The Funes government’s repressive turn may satisfy public demands for an end to crime and violence, but can fuel greater corruption and abuses among the army. Military intervention in the prisons in particular is likely to incur the wrath of gang members who wish no interference with their criminal activities. Moreover, the army’s deployment diverts some $10 million from other state institutions and risks deflecting attention from the urgent need to strengthen the justice system.

Even with the best of intentions the cash-strapped Salvadoran state would have found it difficult to come to grips with the host of structural problems it faces. The Mejicanos massacre, however, has only intensified pressure for immediate solutions to the violence. The indignation caused by the attack has closed the little political space that existed for prevention and triggered a revival of the same populist measures that were fruitless under previous administrations. (read more).

3 comments:

Creativity Coach-Sherrie said...

Tim,
I've been trying to leave comments, but for some reason, they haven't gone through. I appreciate you getting the word out to the English speaking community.
On your last post, I tried to send a note saying "Prayer in school would have NO effect on crime because these criminals don't go to school." Maybe the answer is making sure everyone has the opportunity to get an education. Also they need to make sure that criminals returned to ES from the U.S. do NOT go unpunished.

Lawrence M. Ladutke said...

Aren't "criminals returned to ES from the U.S." punished with prison terms that are served before they are deported? So, they do not go unpunished.

POLYCARPIO said...

I wonder if anyone has debated or weighed the notion of El Salvador becoming a prison provider for the US in exchange for targetted US investment in the Salvadoran prison or judiciary. I think the anti-immigrant feeling in the US would bolster support for "illegal criminals" being removed from US soil and jailed in their country of origin, while US supervision of the deportees in the Salvadoran jails could make it a pilot program that provides cross-over training that hopefully would carry over to other Salvadoran jails. I don't know, it's crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I get a sense of aloofness from most civil society and "the Left" (whatever that means) in El Salvador, especially in intelligentsia, about the urgency to deal with the crime wave. There is a constant resistance to cracking down, with concerns of human rights and civil rights being raised reflexively, without fully fleshing out what is being proposed, seeing how it might be implemented or made workable. The rampant crime, unfortunately, affects the poor and marginalized disproportionately. In my professional capacity, I have been able to travel widely through the region and I have noticed that the affluent are generally immune from the pervasive crime that plagues the region. But, the poor do not have an option NOT to take the buses, or to just walk through and live every day in crime-infested areas. It is really a terrible situation and there ought to be more effort on the enforcement side to develop strategies that provide immediate relief of this problem. Which is a hard one.