Thursday, September 22, 2011

Children, soldiers and gangs

My friend Danny Burridge doesn't blog very regularly. He's too busy immersing himself in the lives of children in one of San Salvador's poorest neighborhoods, La Chacra. But when Danny does blog, it comes with real passion, and it is always worth reading. His recent post Fire and More Fire talks about lives lived under the harsh tactics of Salvadoran soldiers patrolling a high-crime area:

Juan Carlos has been there for a while as a 15 year old. He’s totally tranquilo and humble but carries himself, especially in the shoulders, like he thinks he’s hot stuff. One night a couple months ago around 9:30pm, he went out to buy something from the store that he probably could’ve easily waited until the morning to get, but he went anyway, and sure enough the soldiers suddenly rounded the corner. He got slammed against the wall, searched and hit in the side by what he thought was some type of club or maybe the M-16 butt. His bruise the next day was big enough to have been either.


Luckily, perhaps, his uncle Pedro helps to run a pupuseria stand right down the street, and when Pedro saw what was going down, he told the soldiers to lay off the kid, that it was his nephew and he was clean. The commanding soldier told Pedro to eat excrement, called him an ass bandit and threatened to give him worse treatment than Juan Carlos was getting. Pedro, as a short fuse, quickly invited the soldier to put down his gun and they would see who the bigger man was. The other ladies at the pupuseria started chiming in without much diplomacy, and the soldiers ordered them to shut up. Martita reminded them it was supposedly a free country now, and she wouldn’t shut up for anyone, least of all a mess of cowardly dogs. Suddenly the soldiers had their guns pointed at Pedro, Martita and the rest of the women and children at the pupuseria accusing them of being a front for gang extortions. At this point, Josue (Pedro’s son) and Angelita, 11 and 8 respectively, made a break for it and ran away. Vanessa who is 6, just started to cry. The civilian population continued the heated argument with the armed forces who had their weapons aimed at the people they were supposed to protect. And this is 2011.

Read the rest of Danny's essay here.

3 comments:

especial417 said...

I wonder, Tim, do any Salvadoran teenagers ever come to the United States to go to college? Are there any programs or options to help them to study in the U.S. to help break the cycle of violence and poverty?

Lawrence M. Ladutke said...

The child-draft is not prevention--unless we also consider W.'s war against Iraq as preventative. This is essential preemptive punishment--a term of hard labor because you MIGHT do something in the future.

Senor Pescador said...

these soldiers acted outside their orders,
but a 15 y.o. maybe acted as a punk, as most do,
a 16 y.o. soldier is a trained man