More recordings of secret meetings have surfaced showing prominent FMLN officials meeting with leaders of the country's notorious gangs. In these meetings, the FMLN discusses creating a multi-million dollar micro-credit program to be managed by the gangs and discusses complaints of the gangs about prosecutions and cooperating witnesses.
The recordings were surreptitiously made by the gang members attending the meetings, and the recordings subsequently found their way into the hands of three online journalism sites: El Faro, RevistaFactum, and InsightCrime.
Here is the introduction to the InsightCrime article:
Two videos reveal another layer of secret negotiations between El Salvador’s ruling party, the FMLN, and leaders of the three main gangs in El Salvador. One involves the former Minister of Public Security, Benito Lara, and another is with current Interior Minister Aristides Valencia, in which the latter offers the gang leaders up to $10 million in micro-credit.
The two videos -- obtained by Factum, El Faro and InSight Crime -- show members of the ruling Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional - FMLN) party -- which has controlled El Salvador’s government since 2009 -- meeting with leaders of the MS13 and the two factions of the Barrio 18 gang, and pledging to provide millions of dollars in aid to the gang members.
The videos, which were taken surreptitiously, clearly show the faces of current Interior Minister Aristides Valencia and former Congressman Benito Lara, who was later security minister between June 2014 and January 2016, and has since become a presidential adviser on security- and gang-related matters.Read the rest of the article here.
According to the journalists who analyzed the recordings, the exact date of the meetings cannot be determined, but it appears likely that the meetings were in 2014, the year of the most recent presidential election and at the point when the 2012 gang truce was starting to unravel. The reporting does not reveal whether the promised micro-credit program ever materialized. (I do not recall hearing of such a program).
These recordings follow the revelation in May 2016 of other recorded 2014 discussions between FMLN leaders and gang leadership where Aristides Valencia discussed how the gangs might assist with the FMLN's efforts to win in the second round of the 2014 presidential election. The election was ultimately won by Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the FMLN.
Another recording showed that the FMLN was not alone in seeking help on election day at the polls. ARENA also met for that purpose with the gangs in 2014.
These recordings will no doubt become part of the investigations of the country's attorney general into the gang truce and into public officials who cut deals with the gangs.