Monday, March 26, 2012

New York Times article on homicide drop

The New York Times ran a good story on the drop in the homicide rate in El Salvador yesterday titled  Homicides in El Salvador Dip, and Questions Arise.   The article gives new support to the idea that there was a pact between the government and the gangs:
But a Salvadoran government official and an intelligence agent with knowledge of the discussions, both of whom object to such pacts, said in telephone interviews that a deal was widely discussed by security and intelligence officials in the weeks before gang leaders were moved to less-restrictive prisons. 
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from their bosses or the gangs, said a high-ranking colonel — part of a new team of former military officers promising to take on crime — put the idea in motion shortly after arriving at the Public Security and Justice Ministry in November, with the goal of reducing homicides by 30 percent and reaping political gains.
 But the article notes there remains plenty of controversy in El Salvador:

When the security minister “gives three or four explanations of the same fact in order to justify moving these very dangerous criminals, these high-risk people, one can only feel suspicious and think that beyond the benefits they received, some pact has been reached,” said Benjamín Cuéllar, of the Institute for Human Rights at the University of Central America in San Salvador. 
“There have been a series of explanations which are either contradictory, or have nothing to do with each other,” he added.

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