Inside Story

Can gang warfare in El Salvador be defeated?

The government has imposed a state of emergency to curb fighting between rival gangs.

Tens of thousands of suspected gang members have been arrested in El Salvador since late March, when the government imposed a state of emergency amid a surge in homicides.

More than 24,000 presumed gang members have been detained and in late April the government extended the emergency decree for another 30 days as the roundups continue.

The two main rival gangs operating in El Salvador are the Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as the MS 13, and the rival Barrio 18 or 18th Street Gang. Both have their roots in Los Angeles in the United States.

What is the reason behind the increase in gang crime?

And can the streets be made safe?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra


Carolina Jimenez – President, Washington Office on Latin America

Colin Harding – Latin America analyst and director of Latinform

Hector Silva Avalos – Salvadorian journalist and senior research fellow at the American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies