Friday, November 28, 2008

Terrorists Striking At Will In El Salvador

Photo1: Bus Driver Killed For Extorsion In San Salvador

Gangs in El Salvador, and yes………. everyone is sick of hearing about the gang problem here….
gangs are waging war on the public transportation sector. In the past three days, they have torched two buses, killed 5 bus drivers (or the person who takes the money on the bus, known as the "cobrador"), and made attempts on the lives of many more. Just today, a security guard died in a shootout when gangsters were trying to kill a bus driver.

Photo2: Bus Burned In Apopa, On The Outskirts Of San Salvador

This year, close to 100 bus drivers on public buses have been killed here. This statistic is low, as it doesn't count the passengers, as well as security guards, who have also been killed. The gangs do this as intimidation for the bus owners to pay "La Renta", extorsion.

Photo3: Family of Slain Cobrador Identifying the Body, San Salvador
The president has called for the bus owners to resist the gangs, and yet the government has done nothing to stem the tide of this violence, nor to reshape public transportation to prevent this tragedy. The reason is, the public buses are all actually privately owned, and the bus owners wield a lot of political power. For example, the bus owners, being the only source of transportation to voting centers, can simply refuse to transport people in one particular area if they are irritated by a political party. The bus owners evidently don't care if they lose a few drivers or buses, as they too have done absolutely ZERO to secure their routes.
Are the gangs terrorists? Max G. Manwaring, the General Douglas MacArthur Chair of Military History at the US Army War College, has likened the widespread, organized criminal enterprise of MS-18 and MS-13 as a form of urban insurgency. More to the point, the effect of all the gang violence is the equivalent of a low intensity conflict (read: war) with the governing nation, here being El Salvador.

Photo4: Bullet Hole From The Shot That Killed A Bus Driver, San Salvador

Consider: in the United States or any other country in the world, if there were coordinated attacks on public transportation and targeted assasinations (one every three days in the city here) by an organized group with a defined agenda (here it is simply to gain power, money, and undermine the government), we would call the people who carried out these attacks terrorists.

Photo5: Passengers in Central Eastern Bus Terminal

In El Salvador, these attacks almost never make the front page, because people are so used to them. They are not news anymore. If people want to stabilize this country, fight terrorism, and prevent transnational crime, this would be a really good, cheap place to start.

1 comment:

Karla Espinoza said...

My compliments for your work Ethan. The truth has succeeded in identifying what exists under the surface that we journalists write daily. Congratulations and I hope you learn a lot.
To forward and good luck ...