In recent years, international cartels moving cocaine, arms and laundered money have installed themselves in key transshipment locations in Latin America and the Caribbean. As their franchises expanded, they have converted several countries into global crime hubs.
In El Salvador, the homicide rate has spiked to its highest level in a decade, putting the tiny Central American nation on pace to become the most deadly country in the hemisphere. Since a 2012 truce between the two most powerful street gangs crumbled last year, violence has surged.
According to the authorities, 23 policemen and six members of the military have been killed by gangs this year. A total of 1,194 people were killed in El Salvador between January 1 to April 5, according to official estimates.
The recent uptick in killings underscores the breakdown in a truce the gangs declared in March 2012, which was brokered by the Catholic Church with behind-the-scenes help from then president Mauricio Funes.
In March, the government passed an anti-extortion law that, among other measures, forbids companies from supplying cellphone signals near jails. Under the new law, a phone company who breaks the law is subject to a fine of $753,000 per day of continued infraction.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Panama’s economy will grow by 7 percent this year, but because of glaring inequality, most Panamanians will never see that prosperity. In Guatemala, corruption is rampant among the “klepto-dictatorship” that runs the country, and in El Salvador, gross domestic product stagnates as politicians stuff their pockets with money from violent gangs.
WASHINGTON, D. C. – Cristina Equizábal, a senior fellow at El Salvador’s National Foundation for Development (FUNDE), visited Costa Rica earlier this month – and was shocked to learn that local police had uncovered an enormous cache of M-16s, Uzis, AK-47s and other weapons in a suburb of San José.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This year’s highly publicized influx of child migrants from Central America via Mexico to the U.S. border has sparked intense debate about the proliferation of gangs in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. But efforts by the three countries to eliminate gang violence have been ineffective and often counterproductive.