The North American country supports paramilitaries economically to execute the leaders of the gangs
CNN recently revealed that El Salvador's "hard-line" policy against the two big maras, the MS-13 or Salvatrucha and the 18, has received US support for more than a decade. The prestigious television network issued a report in which it affirms that the elite paramilitary forces of the Central American country received tens of millions of dollars, while some of its units act as "death squads".
In the recent report on Human Rights, the UN accuses the Salvadoran police of the unjust behavior of its agents, whom it points out to carry out extrajudicial executions. It also denounces that the security forces of the small country are installed in a "spiral of impunity" in which their acts rarely have legal consequences.
In 2016, El Salvador received a total of 67.9 million dollars in funding for its police from Washington, last year the figure rose to 72.7 million. There is not much transparency when it comes to knowing to which units those funds were directed, although it does specify that there are "units supervised" by mentors from the FBI and the DEA, the US agency dedicated to the fight against drug trafficking. However, according to CNN, everything seems to indicate that the Special Reaction Forces of El Salvador (FES) are among the beneficiaries. This elite division was responsible for the death of at least 43 gang members in the first six months of 2017, some of those executions are being investigated by the police.
Agnes Callamard, author of the UN report, assures that 92% of the investigations against these agents are archived at 72 hours. Only one case is known of a policeman convicted of an illegal execution, whose sentence was heard on May 9.
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For its part, CNN revealed, in its investigation, WhatsApp conversations in which members of the FES talked about how to hide extrajudicial executions and which gang members had to be eliminated.
Although the FES were dismantled this year, it has only meant a change of name, since El Salvador created a new elite group, the Jaguars, which is fed mostly by former members of the FES. César Ortega, the main commander of this unit, acknowledged to CNN that his squadron has access to US funding and support, which can be seen in the equipment, weapons and vehicles of its agents, as well as in training.
The gangs emerged in the prisons and suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1980s, when thousands of Salvadorans fled the civil war that ravaged their country. Many of them fell into crime and when the United States began deporting them, they took their criminal activities to El Salvador and other countries in Central America such as Honduras and Nicaragua. These gangs are one of the reasons why Donald Trump tries to toughen immigration policy. Recently, the president described the members of these "animal" gangs.
Latin American Post | José María González
Translated from “Estados Unidos financia la guerra sucia contra las maras en El Salvador”