The Mara { 24 images } Created 3 Mar 2009

On average 11 people are murdered each day in El Salvador, on one day last year 27 were killed. The rate of homicide has been rising for the last three years as the country is facing a serious crisis of violence and crime which threatens the countries tenuous economic successes and exacerbates the social divisions left over from the war. ? The Maras say their lives, ? La Vida Loco? has only three endings.? says the National Police Chief of El Salvador Ricardo Menesses, ?the hospital, the prison, or the cemetery.? This is reiterated by the National Chief of El Salvador?s Prisons Humberto Uribe, ?Once a Mara, always a Mara.? There is truth in these statements, but according to human rights activists like Luis Rodriguez who works for Homies Unidos and helps gang members get out of gangs it is precisely this conception of Maras as monsters separate from society and beyond rehabilitation that has created the current crisis. ?Most gang members come from poor and broken families, they have no opportunities for gainful employment, yet they see all around them El Salvadorians living rich lives funded by relatives in the United States. Being part of a gang makes them feel powerful, allows them access to money, and offers them a family.?
The two main gangs in El SAlvador are MS-13, and 18th street, both formed on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980?s, and spread internationally through US policies of deportation. Besides breaking up families and creating the divisions and lack of identify that gang recruiters prey on, the deportations have facilitated a more organized and international style of gang banging. Akin to the war on terror this is a war fought against concepts. Often highly profitable for people in power, governments have consistently failed to address the politically complicated causes of the problem.
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