Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Gangs renew peace push


El Salvador’s powerful gangs on Friday announced the start of a second phase to a peace process that began in 2012, asking the government to help facilitate talks to end violent clashes between the groups.

The Central American gangs — with roots in the US city of Los Angeles — have contributed to one of the highest murder rates in the world. After a March 2012 truce was announced, the daily homicide rate dropped from 14 to five, police said. However, since then, the number has crept back up to 10.2 murders a day and there have been increasing attacks on police and cases of extortion.

Spokesmen from MS-13, Barrio 18, Mao Mao, Maquina, Mirada Locos 13, and other gangs said that they had decided to restart the peace process after “profound and long reflections.”

“We view this new effort as a second chance for the country to achieve peace,” the statement said.

Gangs have asked the government to “provide facilities” so that churches and civil authorities can facilitate dialogue to resolve conflicts between the groups.

Salvadorean President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who took office on June 1, did not recognize the gangs’ truce and said that he would develop his own strategy for ensuring public safety and reducing crime.

However, the gangs said that the violence in the country would not be reduced unless they gave their wholehearted cooperation, adding that “if we are part of the problem, we can be part of the solution.”

They said the terms of their original truce remain in effect, which include a cessation of hostilities among gang members and in “action” against family members and trustees of the police and the prison system.

They also promised to suspend “forced recruitment” and stop harassment in schools and provide guarantees for free movement of aid and medical groups in areas under their control.

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