The Los Angeles Times had a story on June 11about the proposal by Funes to draft into the military 5000 at-risk youth aged 16 to 18 to keep them out of gangs. Funes announced the plan in his June 1 address to the nation:
The plan calls for drafting 5,000 male teens deemed at risk of joining gangs and putting them through six months of civil defense training at centers run by the army reserve. Such service, officials say, would instill discipline in the youngsters while removing them from squalid conditions that have proved fertile for gang recruitment.
The draftees, ages 16 to 18, would receive noncombat training only and would not handle firearms.
'Youths are going to be subjected to the rigors of military discipline, but will not receive military instruction like the use of arms, and only will be instructed in protecting of civilians who are vulnerable in cases of natural disasters,' said Defense Minister David Munguia Payes.
According to the LA Times, the proposal has received political support across party lines and that approval by the National Assembly should be forthcoming quickly.
Like calling the army into the streets, the proposal gets public approval because the government seems to be doing something, but the actual effectiveness of such a proposal in reducing gangs and crime seems questionable. Meanwhile, civil liberties groups in El Salvador have criticized the measure as a violation of international accords on the rights of children and adolescents.