SAN SALVADOR – The number of murders in El Salvador between January 1 and November 1 stands at 3,673, more than in all of 2008 and 40 percent more than during the same period last year, the press reported Tuesday, citing official statistics.
La Prensa Grafica newspaper based the figure on data from the National Police, the Attorney General’s Office and the medical examiner’s office.
The number of murders, which average 13.9 per day, is 40.2 percent higher than the 2,620 homicides that were tallied during the same period in 2008.
The National Police added that during last month alone there were 431 murders, 158 more than in October 2008.
Authorities warn that nearly two-thirds of the 3,184 men killed this year were between the ages of 18 and 30.
The San Salvador metropolitan area, which contains 14 municipalities, has had 419 more murders this year than during the same period last year.
Seventy-six percent of the killings were carried out with firearms.
In the face of the increase in violence, 94 percent of the residents of Greater San Salvador supported the possibility of increasing the use of army troops for security tasks, according to a survey by the firm JBS Opinion released Tuesday by the Diario de Hoy newspaper.
The poll was made public at a time when the government of President Mauricio Funes is evaluating the possibility of adding 6,500 soldiers to the effort to fight the lack of security.
Much of the violence is blamed on ultraviolent gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, which evolved on the streets of Los Angeles during the 1980s, with most of its members young Salvadorans whose parents fled their nation’s 1980-1992 civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gangsters were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during crackdowns in California in the 1990s.
Sent back “home” to a land they barely knew, they formed gangs in San Salvador that spread throughout the small nation and to neighboring countries in Central America, where membership is now counted in the tens, or even hundreds of thousands and gangsters are engaged in murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and people smuggling. EFE