David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Friday, September 7, 2012

We have previously mentioned the violence in the Salvadoran culture. We have not reported specifically about the gangs or gang culture that prevails throughout the country. This includes prison culture inside and outside the prison walls. Wherever we traveled it was important to prepare ourselves for leaving the safety of our house. We took steps to protect ourselves from petty thieves but it’s impossible to protect oneself from gang violence. The greatest amount of gang violence is directed toward each other. This year started out with 12-14 murders a day. But gang violence that takes place in the community spills out to include innocent bystanders. • In Mejicanos, where we lived, a gang attacked a public bus throwing gasoline bombs at it, setting it afire and killing innocent passengers. They were riding in a bus where the driver would not pay the extortion fee to drive through gang turf. • At the National University a young female stabbed and killed a student who was wearing a shirt she wanted. It was probably her initiation into a gang. Her environment is kill or be killed. • Pastors Julio’s church is two blocks from the Usulut├ín Prison. (There are many prisons in country). One morning the big news in the community was all the prison guards were fired and the National Police took control of the prison. The former guards were being paid by the gangs to provide special privileges to gang leaders, allowing them to continue operating from prison • Between our home in Concepcion Batres and the church of Usulut├ín a new hotel was being constructed. We watched it being built on a weekly basis. On a rainy Sunday night in April, just weeks before opening, what appeared to be a Police Officer demanded the site guard open the gate. Fearing the National Police he opened the gate and 20 black clothed men stormed the facility and removed all the electronic equipment from the 5 story building and disappeared into the rainy night. Recently the country noticed a significant drop in murder rates, 5-6 per day, but an uptick in those disappeared. There was speculation within the country that the gangs and the government were discussing a “peace agreement”. This speculation has been reported regularly by the press and recently the Inter Press Service News Agency has a current story that the gangs and government are looking to end two decades of spiraling criminal violence. The article can be read at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/gangs-and-government-put-their-cards-on-the-table-in-el-salvador/ The article is titled: Gangs and Government Put Their Cards on the Table in El Salvador Be prepared to be shocked. David y Nancy