Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Seeking paths for peace

Voices were heard in El Salvador this week looking for alternative ways to end the cycle of gang violence in the country.

On Monday, the government released its draft proposal of a law for rehabilitation and "re-insertion" of gang members into society.  In announcing the proposal, the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Benito Lara, stated that the law was aimed at youth who had come under the influence of the gangs, to give them a reason to make the decision to exit.  The law would seek to slow the growth of gangs through programs of formal and informal education, job creation, and productive projects leading to a culture of peace.  

Lara emphasized that this law did not provide for amnesty for gang members, nor was it directed at those who had committed serious crimes.   The law now goes to the National Assembly for debate, where a central question will be how to finance the programs.

On Tuesday, marchers converged on Plaza Salvador del Mundo clamoring for an end to violence.  The march was convened by member churches of IPAZ, the pastoral initiative for life and peace, including the Anglican and Lutheran churches of El Salvador.  Among the marchers were family members of gang members who joined their voices to those seeking to stop the violence.

Coverage of the march from ContraPuntoTV

With notice that families of gang members would be in the march, the police were stopping buses on the way to the march, making people get out, and searching for those wanted for crimes.   Media coverage was summarized by this headline in La Prensa Grafica:  Family Members of Terrorist Groups Will March for Peace.   

The hundreds of marchers today were only a shadow of the tens of thousands who filled the same space seven months ago in a similar march for peace on March 26.  Tragically the daily, weekly and monthly tally of murders has only increased since March.  

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