El Faro and Insight Crime have published a feature article titled The Legion of the Displaced looking at the reality of families displaced from their homes by gang violence in El Salvador. It is a silent tragedy in El Salvador and there are no statistics of how many families have been forced to flee to other parts of El Salvador or to flee the country. But their silent, abandoned, graffiti covered homes in El Salvador's toughest neighborhoods bear witness.
Here are the opening paragraphs:
In the suburbs of El Salvador, in neighborhoods stained by Mara Salvatrucha or Barrio 18 graffiti, there are hundreds of abandoned, decaying houses. These houses tell the drama of the families who silently lived through their own history of violence: those displaced by gangs.
There are houses that talk. They scream things, recount bits and pieces of larger stories. One house has four rooms, a small terrace and a patio. From the fixtures that survived (ceramic floor, red brick decorating the outside walls, a red metal gate), one would say the family that lived here put plenty of love and care into this house. From the threats painted on the walls, one would also say that the family that lived here suffered displacement and flight, leaving everything behind.
If Sabine Moreno's life could be explained in a timeline, a succession of events represented by coordinates, we could say the old life of Sabine Moreno ended when her family gathered what they could and fled the community with no direction in mind.
That was a tragic moment. Maybe not as much as the death of her grandfather (ambushed on the path, not very far from the neighborhood, pretty close to the taxi station; three bullets, no witnesses, blood pouring from his mouth), but still painful, all things considered.
A peak in the diagram: murder of the grandfather. Mauricio Moreno, may he rest in peace, 06/10/1960 – 18/11/2010.
Mauricio's murder finally activated the nerves that makes the brain order the feet to run. Those who presumably killed him had also taken the lives of another six members of Sabine's family that year. Back then, Sabine was still a 16-year-old student with plenty of dreams. You might ask: why didn't the family leave when the first victim died? And who would endure so much death before deciding to leave the area?
Among the women who now lead the family, there are a couple of explanations. Blanca, Sabine's mother, says at first they didn't believe these deaths had anything to do with them. Amelia, Sabine's grandmother on her father's side, says it was her husband's fault they didn't leave. The family always lived by Mauricio's decisions, and Mauricio was set against abandoning the piece of land among the orchards and coffee farms that had cost them all so dearly.
Make sure and read the rest here.