Gangs Are Committed to Total Cessation of Violence in Four Salvadoran Cities

By Dialogo
January 23, 2013

Four Salvadoran cities will be declared “free of violence,” as part of a truce that gangs subscribed to a few months ago, the peace process mediators and Adam Blackwell, Secretary of Multidimensional Security at the Organization of American States (OAS), announced on January 18.

“We are pleased to announce the first four municipalities in which the second phase of the process will be carried out, namely: Ilopango, Santa Tecla, Sonsonate and Quezaltepeque,” Blackwell stated during a press conference with the truce facilitators, military chaplain Fabio Colindres, and former guerrilla commander Raúl Mijango.

According to Blackwell, an evaluation dated March 9, 2012, determined that “the existing conditions of the truce started with the feared ‘Mara Salvatrucha’ and ‘Barrio 18’ gangs, under the mediation of Colindres and Mijango.”

With the truce between gangs, the average homicide rate was reduced from 14 to five a day.

“We consider that common efforts to achieve peace are unified in a town free of violence,; it is not about covering up lies and evil, but about combating these scourges in the most clever way: by creating (job) opportunity, not just by repression,” chaplain Colindres stated.

The mayors, and on a general level, a technical committee made up of OAS, Fundación Humanitaria, Colindres, Mijango and Minister of Justice and Security, General David Munguía, will be responsible for coordinating the “recovery of social peace” in these towns.

The technical commission seeks to create conditions for other municipalities that have also “stood out because of their high rates of violence” can be included in the process, the OAS official said.

Businessman Antonio Cabrales, member of Fundación Humanitaria, said that they intend to seek and coordinate international help to “make the peace process sustainable.”

Ilopango was declared the first municipality to be “free of violence” on January 22, while Santa Tecla will be added on January 25, Sonsonate on January 29, and Quezaltepeque on January 31.

As part of the truce, gang groups will surrender their arsenal of weapons in El Salvador’s central square for the second time in this process.