{"code":"24709","sect":"Columnas","sect_slug":"columnas","hits":"220","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202008\/columnas\/24709","link_edit":"","name":"The Problem with the Gang Truce Isn\u2019t Strategic, It\u2019s Political","slug":"the-problem-with-the-gang-truce-isn-rsquo-t-strategic-it-rsquo-s-political","info":"","mtag":"Politics","noun":{"html":"Bo Carlson","data":{"bo-carlson":{"sort":"","slug":"bo-carlson","path":"bo_carlson","name":"Bo Carlson","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"220","pict":{"cms-image-000034206-jpeg":{"feat":"1","sort":"34206","name":"cms-image-000034206.jpeg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034206.jpeg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034206.jpeg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000034206-jpeg","text":"<p>Former Minister of Defense and Security, David Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, being escorted by police officers after an initial hearing at the Isidro Men\u00e9ndez Court in San Salvador. Photo from El Faro: Carlos Barrera<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFormer Minister of Defense and Security, David Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, being escorted by police officers after an initial hearing at the Isidro Men\u00e9ndez Court in San Salvador. Photo from El Faro: Carlos Barrera\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":34206,"date":{"live":"2020\/08\/07"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"08","data_post_dateLive_DD":"07","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cem\u003EEditor\u2019s Note: Read the original version of this column \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202007\/columnas\/24690\/El-problema-de-la-tregua-es-pol%EDtico-no-estrat%E9gico.htm\"\u003Een espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ETwo weeks ago, the National Civil Police \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elsalvador.com\/noticias\/nacional\/david-munguia-payes-captura-fiscalia-general-tregua-pandillas\/735804\/2020\/\"\u003Edetained\u003C\/a\u003E David Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, a former Security Minister and key figure in El Salvador\u2019s gang negotiations in 2012. When it issued the order against Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, the office of the Attorney General also authorized the detention of ex-President Mauricio Funes Cartagena, who has received asylum in Nicaragua. In addition to the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/apnews.com\/b510cfa4284cb6495a55f8fcd5d2f321\"\u003Eaccusations\u003C\/a\u003E of arbitrary acts, breach of duty, and illegal association linked with the truce, Funes is the subject of a civil proceeding for illegal enrichment.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAlthough Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s and Funes should not be considered above the law, the case against them represents a worrying trend. Instead of serving as a public policy option that Salvadorans can openly debate, the \u201cgang truce\u201d has become a tool used by political parties to levy accusations of wrongdoing against one another.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=34206\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Former Minister of Defense and Security, David Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, being escorted by police officers after an initial hearing at the Isidro Men\u00e9ndez Court in San Salvador. Photo from El Faro: Carlos Barrera\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFormer Minister of Defense and Security, David Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, being escorted by police officers after an initial hearing at the Isidro Men\u00e9ndez Court in San Salvador. Photo from El Faro: Carlos Barrera\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EPoliticians and the media should reduce the stigma surrounding gang negotiations so they can be one option among many to confront violence. If the current or future government wants to consider a new truce, they should be able to do so without fear of reprisal from the opposition.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn 2009, when Mauricio Funes entered office, homicides in El Salvador were more frequent than in many war zones: \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/data.worldbank.org\/indicator\/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5?end=2009&locations=SV-HN-JM-VE-KN&most_recent_value_desc=true&start=2008\"\u003E71 out of every 100,000 inhabitants were killed\u003C\/a\u003E, the highest rate in the world. Given the failure of several mano dura policies to reduce crime, the Funes administration began a series of secret negotiations with MS-13 and Barrio 18. El Faro \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elfaro.net\/es\/201203\/noticias\/7985\/\"\u003Erevealed\u003C\/a\u003E the details of those conversations in March of 2012. Soon after, Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s, then Minister of Justice and Public Security, \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201203\/noticias\/8149\/\"\u003Eannounced\u003C\/a\u003E the truce.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EWithin the following nine months, the \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.salanegra.elfaro.net\/es\/201503\/cronicas\/16490\/La-Tregua-redefini%C3%B3-el-mapa-de-asesinatos-de-El-Salvador.htm\"\u003Ehomicide rate fell by 41%\u003C\/a\u003E and the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.oas.org\/es\/centro_noticias\/comunicado_prensa.asp?sCodigo=C-128\/13\"\u003EOAS\u003C\/a\u003E committed itself as a partner for peace. However, in May 2013, the Supreme Court declared Funes\u2019s 2009 nomination of Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s as defense minister \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elfaro.net\/es\/201305\/noticias\/12113\/\"\u003Eunconstitutional\u003C\/a\u003E as he was a retired military officer in an office constitutionally reserved for civilians. Shortly after the ruling, his successor, Ricardo Perdomo, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.laprensagrafica.com\/elsalvador\/Nuevo-ministro-de-Seguridad-desliga-a-Gobierno-de-tregua-20130530-0054.html\"\u003Eabandoned\u003C\/a\u003E the gang truce. In 2014 and 2015, the violence returned even more forcefully, reaching a rate of \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/data.worldbank.org\/indicator\/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5?end=2017&locations=SV-HN-JM-VE-KN&most_recent_value_desc=true&start=2000\"\u003E105 homicides for every 100,000 Salvadorans\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ESince 2013, various researchers have studied the consequences of the truce. One study, conducted by the Fundaci\u00f3n Nacional para el Desarrollo, estimated that the truce \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/pdfs.semanticscholar.org\/5141\/570eec8bb1e967a23f2db5dba93e50eda8b8.pdf\"\u003Esaved the lives of 5,500 Salvadorans\u003C\/a\u003E over a period of two years. \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.jstor.org\/stable\/43920009?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents\"\u003EJos\u00e9 Miguel Cruz and Ang\u00e9lica Dur\u00e1n Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/a\u003E, two political scientists based in the United States, consider the reduction in homicides as a positive development. However, they also note that in certain cases, the gangs substituted more \u201cvisible\u201d homicides for disappearances to appease the government.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EU.S. journalist \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/es.insightcrime.org\/investigaciones\/los-aspectos-positivos-y-negativos-de-la-tregua-entre-pandillas-en-el-salvador\/\"\u003ESteven Dudley\u003C\/a\u003E emphasizes the political capital earned by gangs as a negative consequence of the truce. The negotiations also facilitated an opportunity for \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.insightcrime.org\/news\/analysis\/el-salvadors-jailed-gang-mediator-feel-defrauded\/\"\u003Epersonal enrichment\u003C\/a\u003E for the bureaucrats involved. And while the homicide rate clearly fell due to the truce, it remains unclear whether the frequency of extortions \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/historico.elsalvador.com\/historico\/119600\/buseros-denuncian-que-pagan-millones-en-extorsiones-a-pandillas.html\"\u003Eincreased\u003C\/a\u003E or \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.insightcrime.org\/news\/brief\/why-are-el-salvador-gangs-so-keen-to-maintain-failing-truce\/\"\u003Edecreased\u003C\/a\u003E. Still, other researchers \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.crisisgroup.org\/es\/latin-america-caribbean\/central-america\/el-salvador\/64-el-salvadors-politics-perpetual-violence\"\u003Ehighlight\u003C\/a\u003E the failure of various versions of mano dura enforcement.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EWhile researchers have identified both positive and negative consequences of the truce, Salvadoran politicians have chosen another route. When Mungu\u00eda Pay\u00e9s announced the truce in 2012, President Funes denied personal involvement. His electoral opponent in the Arena party cast doubt on official statistics, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elpais.com\/internacional\/2012\/10\/25\/actualidad\/1351162284_007947.html\"\u003Eaccusing\u003C\/a\u003E Funes of \u201clying about the violence like communists lie.\u201d In 2016 and 2019, various bureaucrats were \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.insightcrime.org\/news\/analysis\/el-salvador-officials-deals-gangs\/\"\u003Etried and absolved\u003C\/a\u003E for their involvement with the truce.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EEven today, Attorney General Ra\u00fal Melara \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.insightcrime.org\/news\/analysis\/el-salvador-officials-deals-gangs\/\"\u003Eaccuses\u003C\/a\u003E senior members of FMLN and Arena of collaborating with gangs, while more details \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201806\/el_salvador\/22148\/Nayib-Bukele-tambi%C3%A9n-pact%C3%B3-con-pandillas.htm?utm_source=DB+El+Faro+_English&utm_campaign=3c1177679b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_22_01_08_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3ec9190c89-3c1177679b-193531031\"\u003Ecome to light\u003C\/a\u003E about \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202007\/el_salvador\/24612\/Nueva-informaci%C3%B3n-de-la-reuni%C3%B3n-entre-Mario-Dur%C3%A1n-y-Renuente-de-la-MS-13.htm?utm_source=DB+El+Faro+_English&utm_campaign=3c1177679b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_22_01_08_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3ec9190c89-3c1177679b-193531031\"\u003Esecret negotiations\u003C\/a\u003E among Nayib Bukele\u2019s advisors, Barrio 18, and MS-13. Instead of treating the gang truce as a topic of debate, politicians use it as an accusation to discredit their opponents.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe stigma surrounding these negotiations dissuades politicians who want to reduce violence from including a truce among their options. If the media and politicians spoke more directly about the pros and cons of negotiations, the Salvadoran people would have more and better tools to make their own evaluations of the truce. For example, some would consider the reduction in homicides to outweigh the rise in disappearances. Others would decide that the government should never hold conversations with a group as violent as MS-13 or Barrio 18, even if they could save lives. A third group might think about the perverse incentives that a corrupt official would have to negotiate a truce.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ENo matter what conclusion the Salvadoran people reach, negotiations with gangs should be informed by facts rather than stigma and fear. Emphasizing results and guaranteeing greater transparency on the part of the government are key in the fight against crime today.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cem\u003EBo Carlson is an intern with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. His research focus is global development.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}