In a television interview on Univision yesterday, Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes claimed that the rising homicide rate was not an indication that the public security policies of his administration were failing. Instead he insisted that 90%(!) of the murders were not of innocent civilians, but were disputes between gangs over territory or the settling of grievances among the maras, or struggles to control narcotics trafficking. (ContraPunto reports that Funes repeated his 90% claim later in a speech in Izalco).
Funes also dismissed claims that his government was militarizing public security as just the complaints of the "radical left." In answer to another question, he stated that neither he nor his government had ever been in favor of current proposals from the president of Guatemala to decriminalize drugs, and Funes rejected the suggestion that he opposed such proposals because of US pressure.
President Funes may have started as a journalist, but I think he has abandoned any dedication to focusing on actual facts. I may be wrong, but it seems impossible that 90% of the victims are just other criminals. I know personally of too many victims and victims' families who were never part of any gang. What of the hundreds of women killed in femicides each year in El Salvador? What of the murders of bus drivers who didn't give in to extortion? What of the innocent victims of the bus burnimg massacre in Mejicanos? What of the environmental activists killed in areas where gold mines are planned? What of the married pair of PCN political activists assassinated in Guazapa while sitting on a porch last week? I could go on and on.
Certainly there are many murders which do fit the description of battles between rival gangs over territory or drugs. But to suggest that the great majority of victims are gang members and criminals is both wrong and an insult to the suffering affecting too many families throughout the country.