HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Meetings Raise Question about Gangs' Political Might
BRIEF

El Salvador Meetings Raise Question about Gangs' Political Might

EL SALVADOR / 24 OCT 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Representatives of at least two of El Salvador's top political parties, including the opposition leader and front-runner in the upcoming presidential elections, have met with the country's two major gangs, according to the mediator of the ongoing gang truce, raising the question of how much political sway the gangs hold.

Truce arbitrator Raul Mijango told a local television station in an interview that right-wing party ARENA leader and presidential front-runner Norman Quijano, as well as representatives from the incumbent FMLN party, have met with leaders of the country's two main gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18, reported Contra Punto.

Mijango also stated the gangs are "an elector that can define the result" of presidential elections in March 2014, reported Contra Punto. According to La Pagina, he highlighted the gangs' ability to mobilize more than 60,000 voters, as well as their ability to disrupt the elections.  

Quijano has consistently voiced his opposition to the gang truce -- which began in March 2012 -- and earlier this month current president Mauricio Funes branded him a "hypocrite" for apparently having already met with the gangs. 

InSight Crime Analysis

While all of the candidates in the upcoming elections have publicly distanced themselves from the gang truce -- surely driven by its unpopularity among the general population -- they are also aware of the ability of the gangs to affect elections. In fact, this is not the first time Quijano has faced accusations of hypocrisy for meeting the gang leaders. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

However, the profundity of the gangs' political reach is still an unknown. The 60,000 votes Mijango mentioned include only the gang members, not the gangs' extended families, friends, business associates and sympathizers. Perhaps more importantly, the gangs may sway local votes more than national ones, eventually gaining control of congressional seats and city councils. This would be a good development, if the gangs were already integrated into society, as the truce supposes, and have renounced criminality.

So far that has not happened, and the truce remains an easy target because the gangs continue to extort the general population, progress in the reintegration of gang members has stalled, and homicides are spiking.

However, the political meetings illustrate that the gang truce may have more staying power than previously believed. The truce, engineered by Mijango and now Defense Minister David Munguia Payes, greatly reduced homicides and opened the door for more direct social and economic programs with the gangs. With his statements, Mijango seems to be cautioning the candidates that rash actions to end the truce may lead to unfavorable electoral results and possibly worse.

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

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 21 JUL 2020

Last week, with great fanfare, the US government for the first time levied terrorism charges against a little known MS13…

EL SALVADOR / 1 JUN 2017

The arrest in El Salvador of a mayor suspected of drug trafficking has raised new questions about politicians' complicity with…

BARRIO 18 / 26 FEB 2016

A Wall Street Journal report documents how youths in El Salvador are choosing to become firefighters in order to avoid…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…