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El Salvador to Seek US Truce Funding


El Salvador plans to ask the United States for funding assistance for the country’s gang truce, pointing to the need for a thorough reinsertion scheme in order to make the current peace sustainable.

Officials will travel to the United States from April 7-15 to discuss with US congressmen the future of the truce, agreed between the government, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18. One objective of the visit is to request funds for social reinsertion of gang members, as most money until now has gone into violence prevention, La Prensa Grafica reported.

According to Justice and Security Minister David Munguia Payes, the country needs $150 million to fully implement the gang truce, and currently has only $18 million available, which is being redirected from other programs towards municipalities already involved in the truce. 

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While the truce has won praise for its success in cutting homicide rates, the need to create alternative income sources for gang members to coax them away from extortion — their main money earner — is a major issue which has not yet been fully addressed. Without serious government-supported work schemes the truce is unlikely to last, and reports of rising extortion rates since the deal was brokered already signal trouble.

The United States’ October 2012 move to designate the MS-13 as a transnational criminal organization, to the consternation of El Salvador, could be a sign that the Washington will be unwilling to contribute financial support to the truce.

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