Fighting Extortion in El Salvador
By Dialogo July 01, 2010The human complacency, is not careful with the agreements with delicate, vital, important, serious, visionary connections and for lack of direct identification of everything written or in telecommunications, to know for whom to ask for; the time lost would make the heavens cry to see the problems of the adolescents in the area, which is caused by no occupational distraction, instructive training, disciplinary foundation to spend their time on something different than they are doing now: it is not about not having anything that gets their attention, itâ€™s complacency and excitement to join these groups, even though they know they are headed nowhere in this direction, it doesnâ€™t matter because there isnâ€™t anything else to do, and so to make things worse, the authorities only use jail as punishment, something that isnâ€™t the most optimum way to stop this problem. On the other hand, these youngsters also have to figure out another way, because what good is going to come out of their plans? It costs a little in the beginning, when at times some effort has been made, but when they discover other skills, they begin to feel the happiness, the taste, change in taste, that enthuses and is better for everyone, letâ€™s make sure things change for the good and if someone doesnâ€™t like it then offer them another post according to their capacity, so they can feel good which is better than feeling guarded. Something can be done where we all improve, but not in that manner, the way they have been doing, from officials, business owners, investor, administrators, clerks, workers, students, the general public when something is planned is should be completed: correctly, willingly, without strings attached.
Campaign uses Mexican TV personality to empower Salvadorans
Don Ramón of the classic Mexican comedy El Chavo del Ocho hid from his
landlord when it was time for the rent, and courageous Salvadorans are following his
lead by refusing to pay their “rent” to extortionists to safeguard their shops from
The mustached face of the unlikely hero has popped up in a campaign across
the capital of San Salvador in recent months with the tagline “Yo no me dejo
rentear” (“I am not paying the rent.”) Don Ramón’s comedic rent-dodging tactics in
the ’70s series are contrary to the public nature of the Salvadoran movement, whose
followers openly refuse to pay the “rent,” as extortion payments are
“We cannot wait for the State to resolve that which we do not have the tools
to confront and stop,” reads the group’s manifesto, posted on its interactive
website, www.soydonramon.com. “Our fear, our silence and our passivity are
accomplices to the crimes committed by the delinquents.”
The Don Ramón Citizen’s Movement, whose leaders remain largely anonymous, has
gone beyond banners on bridges, billboards and murals on buildings. In past months,
it has included rallies, promotional T-shirt sales and a site on Facebook, where
more than 10,000 social networking members can post comments.
“We have to unite to counteract, to fight, to wage war. I am not saying to
take up arms. I hope that [the rest of the population] will join us,” movement
organizer Ernesto López said in a recent Associated Press interview.
MAKING SECURITY A PRIORITY
National Civilian Police records, as reported in several media outlets,
indicate that there are on average 12 slayings a day in El Salvador, amounting to
more than 4,000 homicides last year. With this year’s numbers on pace to surpass the
2009 murder rate, President Mauricio Funes is eager to implement a campaign promise
to make security his administration’s chief priority.
“When we inherited this government a year ago [in June 2009], we had a high
murder rate in the country — the highest in Latin America, kidnappings and
extortion,” Funes told the media in May. “To respond to citizen claims, we will keep
Soldiers on the streets, patrolling together with the police to maintain the
operation … for another year.”
In all, through the first quarter of 2010, police registered more than 1,200
extortion cases thought to be the work of rival gangs Mara Salvatrucha and La 18,
though real numbers may be much higher. “We have to organize ourselves to struggle
against this,” López said in a news conference. “Just as [the extortionists]
organize, we are organizing ourselves.”
Catalino Miranda, president of the Salvadoran Federation of Transport Workers
and Companies, told the Associated Press that the transport sector has been the
biggest victim with an estimated $18 million in losses. Extortion and killings of
bus drivers and fee collectors have become so widespread that the national police
force has held strategy sessions with public transportation operators, according to
the national police website.
SIGNS OF PROGR ESS
Stanley Rodríguez of the metropolitan council of Santa Tecla, another city
terrorized by the gangs, explained to the BBC that the purpose of the Don Ramón
movement is to build awareness of extortion and generate a demand for action.
Rodríguez said the system of extortion began five or six years ago, and it widened
to include kidnappings, homicides, robberies and organized crime.
“We want to retake civility, for society to speak out against the problem and
gain awareness of it,” he said. “And we want those who make political decisions to
form prevention programs, campaigns, laws.”
In the first four months of 2010, extortionists killed 44 motorists, bus
drivers and business owners and set 10 businesses on fire. During the same period in
2009, more than three times as many victims and cases of vandalism were recorded,
according to media reports. Patrols by Soldiers and police officers have contributed
to the reduction in violence.