El Salvador has announced a new initiative meant to combat rising crime and violence, with a more open, inclusive approach that contrasts with the secret gang negotiations that were central to the previous government’s security policy.
On September 29, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren introduced the National Council for Citizen Security (CNSCC), an initiative comprised of government officials and representatives from the Catholic Church and the private sector, reported El Pais. This body will receive support from the Organization of American States, the European Union, and the United Nations, reported the AP.
The council is supposed to create an action plan for reducing crime and violence in El Salvador, where — according to the most recently released police statistics — there have been over 2,800 murders so far this year, a 60 percent increase from the same period in 2013, reported El Mundo. Authorities said that the majority of these homicides — 68 percent — are linked to gang violence.
InSight Crime Analysis
The announcement is the first inkling of the new government’s strategy to tackle rising violence in El Salvador. As noted, it comes from the belief that an inclusive strategy, formed with the input of outside voices, will lead to more sustainable security gains.
The promoters of this strategy seem to understand that in order to be successful, they will have to avoid some of the pitfalls that led to the undoing of El Salvador’s gang truce, brokered in 2012.
Government officials and a bishop helped forge the truce between the country’s two largest gangs,the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18. The truce resulted in an immediate drop in murder rates: one year after it was negotiated, the number of homicides in the country had dropped by half. At one point, there was even talk of replicating this model in other countries plagued by gang violence, such as Honduras.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Salvador’s Gang Truce
However, rising levels of violence in early 2014, the lack of transparency, and the inability to get civil society and private sectors to buy in to the truce led many to question its effectiveness. By June, homicide rates in the country had reached pre-truce levels, and in August a former security minister told reporters he considered the truce to be over.