"Punitive populism does not solve the problem of gangs": Jeannette Aguilar

Photo: Ministry of Security of El Salvador.
By Yaneth Estrada

Researcher on security issues and violence, Jeannette Aguilar said that with the repressive policies, It punitive populism based on the gang problem is not resolved, but "create conditions to perpetuate such violence".

With each version of the policy of "Strike Hard" (2003) as each government, It has become more acute, If we take as an indicator as homicide, before the "Strike Hard" was about El Salvador 2 thousand 200 homicides a year, we can say that we were a violent country, and figurábamos in the lists of countries with the highest crime rate in the world, but just in this period of implementation, crime began to increase exponentially, for example, we can say, we got the 2002 with 32 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants, a 65 For each 100 thousand in 2006, with the deployment of the "Super Mano Dura", in the period Saca.

"Homicides doubled, they grew, but also other criminal expressions emerged that greatly affected the population. We can say, these policies no avail, but they generated conditions for violence mutates, He became complex and became very weak institutions ", He emphasized the specialist.

Likewise, He noted that the issue of extortion in 2002-2003 It was very small at the national level, that is to say, very few people were affected by the issue of extortion, what happened, with "mano dura" 2004-2005?, the number of people affected by this scourge significantly increased, He was greatly expanded and became the principal offense, or greater citizen involvement, associated with a high human cost, social and economic.

Stressed that there is ample empirical evidence to say that “the rear gangs the 'Hard Hands', or say associated with that security policy, They mutated than they were young protesters, a generational most cultural expression 1990 at the beginning of the 2000 structures of organized crime, which it is what we have today, and where it happened, that?, precisely in prisons, as a result of these practices, mass incarceration, raising control overcrowding and handing over control of gangs in prisons 2004 with penal reforms, the figure of racketeering is created to fight gang membership, but this leads to generate other crimes”.

While during leftist governments, 2009-2018 The Plan was implemented in El Salvador Insurance (Pessin) in 2015 and the Extraordinary Measures 2016.

Jeannette Aguilar, research on security issues and violence. Photo: @ JeannetteAguil1

Territorial Control Plan

In 2019, amid much secrecy President of the Republic Bukele Najib presented the Plan of Territorial Control, It is consisting of 7 phases for reducing violence. "Well, from the information that has been available to the public, It is a new edition of policies' Mano Dura’ with the element of political marketing, for electoral purposes 2021 who also had the 'Strike Hard’ Flores and 'Super Mano Dura’ Saca armed with a advertising strategy ", Aguilar said.

It's more, This is not a policy in itself, but an operational plan (military police) You will probably be executed in phases, as authorities announced. With greater involvement of the Armed Forces, uneventfully and some aspects of the PESS.

specialist, more than 15 years of experience, He considered that there is also a lack of knowledge of the phenomenon of gangs in the new government and political use of the marketing.

In El Salvador, the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Canas (UCA) It has produced materials explaining this phenomenon in the past 2 you decades, research showing with actors of violence, adducing and how to intervene more effectively these structures.