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Murder Numbers Down, but Security Still a Major Problem in El Salvador

LADB Article ID: 80339
Category/Department: El Salvador
Date: 2017-07-06
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Three years into his presidency, Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the left-wing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN) insists that El Salvador “is on the right path” toward tackling what is arguably its most pressing problem: violent crime. The biggest improvement is a notable drop in the country’s horrific homicide numbers. After reaching a record high in 2015, murders dipped roughly 20% last year, when the government introduced a series of “extraordinary measures” to combat the criminal street gangs presumed to be responsible for most of the violence. So far this year, the downward trend is even more pronounced: As of June 25, the Policía Nacional Civil (National Civil Police, PNC) had reported 1,711 murders, a 42% decrease compared to the same period in 2016, when nearly 3,000 people were killed. The current homicide numbers—as improved as they may be compared with 2015 and 2016—are still not “acceptable.” The World Health Organization considers anything over 10 murders per 100,000 inhabitants to be an “epidemic.” The government’s best-case-scenario projection of 60 per 100,000 by year’s end is six times that. By way of comparison, the per capita murder rate in Mexico in 2015 was 16.35 per 100,000. The US rate in 2015 was 4.8 per 100,000.

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