Salvadoran Gangs Hope to Serve as Inspiration

By Dialogo
May 31, 2013

On May 29, in a ceremony that declared the tenth city in the country free of violence, Salvadoran gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 stated that they hoped to be an inspiration to other nations in the region.

“It is said that Honduras wants to do something similar to what we are doing here, and the truth is that every country has its own characteristics, but if our truce can serve as inspiration, well, then go ahead and imitate it,” Ángel Valle, Barrio 18 representative who has the number 18 tattooed on his head, told the press.

The main “maras” or gangs in Honduras stated on May 28 that they agreed to meet with authorities to evaluate the possibility of a truce, after apologizing to their fellow citizens for the crimes perpetrated.

In the case of El Salvador, the agreement reached on March 9, 2012, has helped reduce the daily average homicide rate, from 14 to five.

Both Salvadoran gangs participated in a ceremony on May 29 to sign the so-called “Peace Pact”, which declared the municipality of Ciudad Delgado, neighboring San Salvador and the tenth largest city in the country, free of violence.

Valle, who was wearing formal black trousers and a long-sleeved light blue shirt covering his tattoos, sat beside Carlos Arroyo of rival gang MS-13.

Authorities and church representatives attended the event, as well as truce mediators: military vicar Fabio Colindres and former guerrilla chief Raúl Mijango.

Sitting about 20 meters apart and facing each other, about 100 Barrio 18 members exchanged looks with their MS-13 rivals.

On May 28, five Salvadoran gangs submitted 154 weapons of different calibres to the Organization of American States (OAS), as part of the peacekeeping plan.

Over 10,000 gang members are in Salvadoran prisons, while about 50,000 roam freely on streets, official sources stated.