HomeNewsBriefMassacres 'High Cost' of El Salvador Security Strategy: Vice President
BRIEF

Massacres 'High Cost' of El Salvador Security Strategy: Vice President

EL SALVADOR / 7 MAR 2016 BY SAM TABORY EN

El Salvador's vice president has suggested that new levels of violence in the country are an inevitable cost of the government's security strategy, raising questions about the sustainability of that policy. 

A day after 31 murders were committed across the country, Vice President Óscar Ortiz was quoted on March 4 saying that recent massacres in El Salvador represent "the high cost" the country is paying in its efforts to consolidate security, reported La Prensa Grafica

The previous day, 11 workers were killed in a multiple homicide incident in San Juan Opico, and two more multiple homicide incidents were reported the day of the Vice President's comments. It is unclear if the murders were gang related.

Ortiz characterized the latest waves of violence as a reaction to the efforts of government security forces targeting criminal structures and operations. 

"[Criminal structures] are reacting irrationally and in a detestable way," said Ortiz. 

On March 2, the vice president made similar comments in a television interview. 

"We are receiving an indiscriminate response from criminals. Without reason, they are murdering and giving orders to create terror in different places, and this is creating a negative perception," Ortiz said. 

Regarding when the population might expect to see results, the vice president said,"It is going to take us time, it is going to be hard, and we are going to pay a tough quota in terms of sacrifices, we are already paying." Ortiz added that when he was mayor of Santa Tecla, it took the city nine years to achieve relative security.

The vice president added that the country has "several months" of difficulty ahead of it, but noted that the government would not be changing its strategy in the face of escalating violence.

InSight Crime Analysis 

Ortiz's comments suggest that he views current spikes in violence as the direct result of a specific security strategy. Such a phenomenon would not be unprecedented. As Mexico pursued its so-called "kingpin strategy" in the late 2000s under President Felipe Calderon, it consciously targeted high-level cartel operators. Violence spiked as power voids led to increased fragmentation and infighting among cartels.

            SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

It is hard to say if a similar dynamic is developing in El Salvador, where the landscape of criminal actors is dominated by gangs rather than cartels, and where there is no clear-cut security stance akin to Mexico's "kingpin strategy." InSight Crime contributor and El Salvador security expert Héctor Silva Ávalos wonders what strategy Ortiz might be referring to. 

"What's the strategy? There is no strategy. We don't know anything about the strategy. The reason we don't know is because they don't know either," said Silva Ávalos. 

Aside from openly refusing dialogue with gangs, President Sanchez Ceren's administration has waffled between assuming a hardline position and a less militarized approach, stumbling to articulate a clear and detailed security strategy since he took office in 2014.

As InSight Crime has previously reported, the government has repeatedly characterized El Salvador's record homicide levels as the result of intra-gang violence, despite reports of extrajudicial killings committed by security forces and death squads

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

EL SALVADOR / 21 APR 2021

A recently published report warns that pacts made between gangs and public officials to lower homicides in El Salvador will…

COCAINE / 24 NOV 2021

An unusually drawn-out feud between two rival gangs in northern Costa Rica has left over 150 people dead in five…

FENTANYL / 10 JAN 2022

The hideous levels of violence plaguing Zacatecas, exemplified by ten bodies abandoned in a van outside the governor’s office, are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…