Marielle van Uitert, A Look Behind El Salvador's New Iron Fist Approach
We've arrived in El Salvador to see for ourselves the human effects of the violence that is rapidly making the country the deadliest place in the world. After a one-year dip in the murder rate following a truce negotiated between criminal gangs and the government of Mauricio Funes in 2012, the killings have spiked again this year, with a projected murder rate for 91 per 100 thousand for 2015. This means nearly 6000 people will be killed this year. According to police statistics, so far 2859 people have already been murdered. Much of El Salvador's violence is attributed to gang members. The prisoners we met are members of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, a transnational criminal gang which originated on the streets of Los Angeles along with its main rival, the Barrio 18 gang. Its founders were refugees from El Salvador's 12-year civil war, which killed over 75,000 people. Under the Clinton and Bush administrations in the late 90s and early 2000s Central American gang members were deported back en masse to weak post-war nations unable to accommodate them.