HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador’s Barrio 18, MS13 Learn to Farm
BRIEF

El Salvador’s Barrio 18, MS13 Learn to Farm

BARRIO 18 / 30 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A new initiative is teaching gang members in El Salvador vocational skills like farming and carpentry work, in an encouraging sign of government efforts to rehabilitate gang members rather than relying solely on repressive measures to address crime. 

On October 29, over 200 incarcerated members of the Barrio 18 street gang began working on a prison farm in the town of Ilobasco in central El Salvador, learning vocational skills like farming, tailoring, carpentry, and construction work, reported El Mundo

Some 400 imprisoned members of the rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang are expected to join the program in the coming days. In total, the initiative — which is administered by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security — aims to benefit at least 800 gang members, reported La Prensa Grafica.  

The program will also offer basic education, health services, and psychological treatment, as well as a mechanics course sponsored by the United States, according to El Mundo. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The vocational training program for incarcerated gang members is an encouraging sign for a country that has been overrun by gang violence. The inauguration of the prison farm is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by the Salvadoran government to find alternatives to the Mano Dura (Iron Fist) security strategies, which have only served to worsen the country’s gang problem. In September, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren announced the creation of a National Council for Citizen Security that will include members of the public and private sectors in creating an action plan to reduce crime and violence. 

SEE ALSO: Barrio 18 Profile

In addition to taking a more progressive approach to gang violence, the new initiative is also designed to reduce overcrowding in El Salvador’s prisons. According to Minister of Justice and Public Security Benito Lara, the country’s prisons are currently 325 percent over capacity, which poses both security risks and human rights issues.

It is worth noting that although Lara announced plans to desegragate the prisons in July, members of the country’s two largest street gangs, the Barrio 18 and MS13, will be kept in different sections of the prison farm. This is in keeping with the government’s controversial security policy, implemented in 2004, that divided prisoners from different gangs, a strategy that has been criticized for strenghtening the criminal groups. 

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.

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 1 SEP 2016

A judge has ordered El Salvador's former attorney general to remain behind bars despite his having posted bail in a…

EL SALVADOR / 9 JAN 2015

Following the collapse of a controversial gang truce, El Salvador saw homicides spike by 57 percent in 2014. Now that…

HOMICIDES / 8 OCT 2018

A community-focused policing program that has produced positive results in one of Mexico’s most violent states suggests that alternative forms…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …