Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The bloody end to Sánchez Cerén's first year in office

On Monday June 1, president Salvador Sánchez Cerén celebrated his first year in office and delivered a report to the National Assembly of El Salvador on the state of the country.  You can read his discourse before the National Assembly here (in Spanish).  It is a speech filled with descriptions of the investments his administration has made in health, agriculture, education and promoting small businesses.

These are all good initiatives, but all are overshadowed by the violence and cost of the country's current wave of gang and criminal activity. As Sánchez Cerén delivered his speech, 38 murders were being committed on June 1.  The month of May ended with 640 murders, an average of almost 21 per day and a rate of killing higher than any other month since the end of the country's civil war in 1992.  The murder tally is 50% higher than the same period in 2014.

I am so weary and saddened by writing about murders and violence in El Salvador, but this moment is worse than any time I have seen in the past 15 years.   The social programs and initiatives of Salvador Sánchez Cerén may be well and good, but unless his government can get a handle on this violence, his legacy will be -- "a nice guy, but completely ineffectual at producing the change the country needed."


Cathy Howell said...

Hi Tim, Just read you post and I feel the same about how disheartening the level of violence is. I'm wonderng what you think the president should do- do you have ideas about this? It seems so intractable - and only solvable by a combination of economic development and rooting out corruption in the elites that control the country - but I'm looking for what ideas people have. My students at CIS and I talk about this a lot but it is hard to see what the president can do given the lack of will of congress and of the wealthy.

Lawrence M. Ladutke said...

Sorry, but anyone who creates a "batallon de limpieza" is not a "nice guy" in my book.