{"code":"24225","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"2197","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202004\/el_salvador\/24225","link_edit":"","name":"Gangs threaten anyone who doesn\u2019t comply with El Salvador\u2019s quarantine","slug":"gangs-threaten-anyone-who-doesn-rsquo-t-comply-with-el-salvador-rsquo-s-quarantine","info":"Representatives of the three main gangs in El Salvador told El Faro that they\u2019ve ordered those who live in their neighborhoods, under the threat of beatings or even death, to comply with the national quarantine. The coronavirus emergency has altered the way gangs conduct extortions: In some areas, they\u2019ve been forgiving the forced payments; in other areas, they simply can\u2019t collect extortion fees because of increased police and military presence.\u00a0","mtag":"Gangs","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/omartinez'\u003E \u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/cmartinez'\u003E Carlos Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E y \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/elemus'\u003E Efren Lemus\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"oscar-martinez":{"sort":"omartinez","slug":"oscar-martinez","path":"oscar_martinez","name":"\u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez","edge":"0","init":"0"},"carlos-martinez":{"sort":"cmartinez","slug":"carlos-martinez","path":"carlos_martinez","name":"Carlos Mart\u00ednez","edge":"0","init":"1"},"efren-lemus":{"sort":"elemus","slug":"efren-lemus","path":"efren_lemus","name":"Efren Lemus","edge":"1","init":"0"}}},"view":"2197","pict":{"cms-image-000033324-jpeg":{"feat":"1","sort":"33324","name":"cms-image-000033324.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033324.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000033324.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000033324-jpeg","text":"<p>Family members of people kept in quarantine in Jiquilisco, Usulut\u00e1n, await news on March 13, 2020. Marvin Recinos\/AFP.<\/p>\r\n<p>\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFamily members of people kept in quarantine in Jiquilisco, Usulut\u00e1n, await news on March 13, 2020. Marvin Recinos\/AFP.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n\u003Cp\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":33324,"date":{"live":"2020\/04\/02"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"04","data_post_dateLive_DD":"02","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Salvador\u2019s three main gangs have responded to El Salvador\u2019s national emergency over the coronavirus with a threat. They\u2019ve added to the fear Salvadorans feel about the disease\u2019s quick spread and the uncertainty caused by governmental measures by forcefully imposing a curfew on communities living under their control. Anyone caught breaching quarantine in the neighborhoods where gangs enforce their own law systems will be punished despite the government\u2019s security policies.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe state of exception that the Salvadoran government decreed more than two weeks ago has disrupted the gangs\u2019 main source of financing: Extortion. The two factions of Barrio 18 \u2014 Surenos and Revolutionaries \u2014 have agreed to stop demanding money from a large percentage of the informal vendors that they often harass. Meanwhile, the Mara Salvatrucha-13 plans on continuing collecting these fees \u2014 known as \u201cla renta\u201d \u2014 despite the fact that sources inside the gang acknowledge the mandatory quarantine and are aware that the closing of businesses will make it difficult for them to collect any money.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFor this story, El Faro spoke with national leaders of the MS-13 and the Sure\u00f1os faction of Barrio 18, as well as with two gang members of the Revolutionaries faction. It also spoke with transportation workers, informal vendors, a police commissioner, and obtained several voice notes sent by the different gangs to Salvadorans living in the areas they control. In these messages, the gangs are threatening any neighbor who walks around the streets for any reason other than buying food. If caught outside, individuals will have to \u201cdeal directly with us,\u201d they warn.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to a \u201cranflero\u201d (a national leader) of MS-13, the organization has established opening and closing times for shops in their neighborhoods. The gang will only allow one member per family to go food shopping. Whoever breaks this rule will be beaten or killed. Barrio 18 imposed the same measures.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe gang members who spoke to El Faro claimed that their decisions rose from a coordination between the three criminal structures and that the rules will be applied at a national level. Despite the reduction in homicides that El Salvador has experienced in the last year, the gangs\u2019 enormous territorial and social power remains intact, thanks to the terror citizens in the nation\u2019s poorest areas feel. These are the same areas where these groups have the greatest power and where they commit most of their crimes. The threat hits El Salvador\u2019s poorest families the hardest, most of whom do not have permanent jobs and who depend on informal sales or temporary jobs to survive.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cWhat has been said to (the gangs\u2019 leaders) is that we must first try to raise awareness among people using good and nice terms and if they don\u2019t understand the first time, then we have to paint a picture for them. Salvadorans are known for understanding only when ugly terms are used. Every clique knows that they\u2019re first told the nice way, and then, the next time we have to address them, words are not going to be used,\u201d said an MS-13 leader, the gang\u2019s designated spokesman.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe members of the three criminal organizations assured El Faro that their rules are intended to support the government\u2019s measures. Their reasons are diverse: One of the gang representatives argued that they were not convinced that hospitals will treat gang members in case the epidemic unleashes its worst scenario in El Salvador. Another said that, with these measures, they want to prevent an increase in police presence in their neighborhoods. The MS-13 representative said each organization will establish schedules to make sure that a member of each family can go out and purchase food. \u201cAfter six in the afternoon, we don\u2019t want to see anyone, anyone on the streets,\u201d he said.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn the afternoon of Monday, March 30, El Faro received from a confidential source two audio messages. Both recordings were from gang leaders addressing members of their cliques. From the first recording: \u201cWe don\u2019t want anybody in the streets, not even for work. People going out to buy goods are the only ones with permission to be out. Got it? But they can only go out for that, to shop, and then they need to go right back home, because if we end up finding someone in the streets.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn the second recording, attributed to the Sure\u00f1os faction of Barrio 18, the warning is repeated: \u201cIf people don\u2019t want to get on board and hear what we\u2019re saying about what\u2019s being asked, and they don\u2019t give a shit about the protocols the government is calling for, we\u2019re going to be forced to act, if they don\u2019t give a shit about our orders, then we\u2019re not going to give a shit about enforcing our decisions\u2026\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe representatives of the two criminal organizations are basically arguing that people are vulnerable, and the police forces are not capable of the social control they\u2019re seeking. As the MS-13 representative put it, \u201cIf the contagion gets into the prisons, all of our people are going to die\u2026 Plus, if there are no ventilators, and one of us is intubated, in grave condition, and all tattooed, and then there\u2019s an old woman who\u2019s in grave condition, they\u2019re going to pull the tube out of the gang member and let him die\u2026 There are checkpoints in the streets, but not in the communities. There are patrols, but, when the patrol cars leave, everybody goes out in the street to party. But, for good or for bad, we get respect.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe member of the Revolutionaries also boasted of the profound control they exercise over their territories: \u201cThey won\u2019t be able to tell us that Pedro\u2019s leaving the house to buy something, and then Jos\u00e9\u2019s leaving the house, too, because we know who lives together and who doesn\u2019t.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Virus is Upsetting the Extortion System\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA police commissioner, who asked to remain anonymous, also confirmed that there has been a decrease in extorsions: \u201cThe reports confirm it. We have practically zero this month. Of course, the quarantine is affecting it all, they have a harder time leaving, but charging extortion is principally local, they don\u2019t need to move beyond their neighborhoods. Almost all crime has gone down: theft, robbery, homicide is practically over, fewer people are going out in the street.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERepresentatives of two public transportation unions also confirmed that during the coronavirus emergency their workers have not been paying the \u201crenta.\u201d The gangs \u201care still asking for it. What some owners have done is reach an agreement and delay payment, because there\u2019s not money now,\u201d said Genara Ram\u00edrez, the president of the Salvadoran Bus Entrepreneurs Association (AEAS, in Spanish), a union active in Soyapango and Mejicanos neighborhoods\u2014which are both under tight control of the gangs.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOver the last three weeks, the government has ordered a series of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus: the closing of borders and the airport, the state of exception and a monthlong national quarantine. The measures were accompanied with the wide deployment of the army and police. At the same time, some cliques have stopped extorting transport service providers. Those businesses are now worried about what will happen after the emergency passes.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMiranda, president of the Federation of Passenger Transport (Fecoatrans), also confirmed that these weeks they are not paying extortions. \u201cSince there\u2019s no cash, it doesn\u2019t make sense to go out and ask for it. Hopefully they\u2019re not keeping records and we\u2019re going to have to pay it all afterwards,\u201d he commented.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Sunday, March 29, El Faro spoke with two taxi drivers in the center of San Salvador and asked about extortion fees. Both answered that they had to pay fifteen dollars a day, but that nobody from the gang that controls the area has showed up to ask for the monthly fee. One of the drivers said that no gang member has given him any \u201cofficial information\u201d about a waiving of the fees. \u201cI\u2019m waiting, I\u2019m saving it up, because I imagine that sooner or later they\u2019re going to come to take it. They\u2019ve got to be hurting for money now, too,\u201d he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA representative of the Sure\u00f1os faction of Barrio 18 explained that, under the circumstances of restricted mobility and the risk of contagion, the gang has issued orders to its members to suspend the collection of extortion fees, which is the principal means of income for the criminal group. The MS-13 representative said that they haven\u2019t made any decision, and, for now, are continuing to charge the illegal fee.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"}