SAN SALVADOR – The gang truce that cut the number of murders in El Salvador by half for nearly two years has collapsed, outgoing President Mauricio Funes acknowledged Monday with less than a week left in his five-year mandate.
“The truce has failed, not only due to the decision of those who sealed it. It’s because it created a state of (public) opinion against it,” he said in an interview with Megavision television.
“With this, I’m not saying that the truce was necessary or the only option” to confront the violence, Funes added.
“Today, we’re at an average of 14 homicides per day in part because there are organized crime structures, with clear political links and motivations, that want to cause the country to be seen as a failed state,” the president said.
The truce between the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 gangs consisted of their members not killing each other, an agreement that reduced the average daily number of murders from 14 to around five from March 2012 until recently.
Funes said on April 26 in his weekly radio program that M18 “decided to break the truce.”
The pact has always been surrounded by criticism and doubts and it had been rejected by different sectors, while the Funes government denied ever negotiating with the gangs and said that it had only been a “facilitator” of the truce.
Last Friday, authorities registered at least 31 homicides nationwide.
Funes attributed the resurgence in murders in part to “hare-brained minds that seek killing for killing,” who intend “to cause to fail” both his administration as well as the one to be headed by Salvador Sanchez Ceren starting on June 1.
Both men are from the leftist FMLN.
Funes said he regretted the increase in murders but felt that “it’s unfair” to evaluate his government’s security policy only on that score.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that we had 22 months where the murder rate dropped at least by half and where the average number of daily murders was between four and five,” he said.