HomeNewsAnalysisEl Salvador 'Peace Zone' Launched in Second Phase of Gang Truce
ANALYSIS

El Salvador 'Peace Zone' Launched in Second Phase of Gang Truce

BARRIO 18 / 23 JAN 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

The first "peace zone" has been inaugurated in El Salvador, launching the second phase of the gang truce, which could prove critical in determining whether the initiative is sustainable.

Gang leaders and mediators named Ilopango, a town near the capital, a violence-free area where no crimes will be committed. Gang members will hand in weapons and stop all crimes, including extortion, kidnapping, theft, and murder. Some 18 municipalities in the country may eventually see the creation of such zones. 

Gang mediators Bishop Fabio Colindres and ex-congressman Raul Mijango proposed the peace zones last November as a follow up to the truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs, which has seen murders drop by two-thirds since it was negotiated last year.

There remains some confusion over how the zones will be funded. Ilopango's Mayor Salvador Ruano told newspaper La Prensa Grafica that during a meeting with local politicians on January 22, Security Minister David Munguia Payes had offered $72 million to the local governments which may host the peace zones. Other mayors present at the meeting made conflicting claims, one stating the zones would be supported by "pure goodwill" and another saying each would be given between $100,000 and $500,000. Nothing was confirmed by the national government.

Earlier in the week, a charitable foundation was launched with the aim of raising funds internationally to pay for technical and human resources aimed at aiding the truce, El Diario de Hoy. The foundation will also carry out legal studies, research similar initiatives in other countries, and analyze effects of public policy on the truce.

The next peace zone is scheduled to be inaugurated in Santa Tecla on the 25th, followed by another in Quezaltepeque on the 31st.

InSight Crime Analysis

While statements by gang representatives indicate a real will for this project to work, the plan is ambitious and will need tangible support from all sectors of society to succeed. Gang members have stated their desire to work in the legal economy, increasing the pressure on the government to provide them with job opportunities. Both the government and several multinational companies already have job programs in place for gang members, but they will likely need to expand them greatly as the peace zones multiply across the country. 

One issue is extortion, which continues to be a major source of income for the gangs. Gang members have made clear they will continue extorting until conditions exist for reinsertion into society, reported D.C-area newspaper El Tiempo Latino. Some gang members have already complained that the government isn't doing enough to speed up this process.

Also unclear is the role of law enforcement. When the proposal for the peace zones was first launched, it was initially reported that police would stop large-scale operations and nighttime patrols in these areas. However, recent reports only discuss the gangs' side of the deal. Moving forward, the cooperation of security services will be essential -- police will need clear guidelines for what to do should an outbreak of violence occur in a peace zone.

The truce has been widely lauded as a success so far, demonstrating that there are alternatives to the "iron fist" approach previously employed by the Salvadoran government. However, there have also been reports the maras have taken advantage of the truce in order to regroup and reorganize.

This next phase could again set a precedent for countries grappling with gang violence around the world, but there are key issues which must be addressed for it to have a real chance of success.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 21 MAY 2015

As a result of the escalating conflict between gangs and the government, El Salvador is on track for another record-breaking…

EL SALVADOR / 12 JAN 2018

Authorities in the United States indicted several alleged members of the MS13 gang, offering a detailed look into how…

EL SALVADOR / 30 MAR 2011

During his recent visit to troubled El Salvador, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a $200 million security…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…