Bishop Tries to Mediate Between Gangs That Terrorize Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, JAN. 14, 2003 ( The Catholic Church in Honduras has appealed to the government and civil society to support the efforts of a bishop who is trying to mediate between two rival youth gangs.

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Auxiliary Bishop Romulo Emiliani of San Pedro Sula, the country’s second city, announced his determination to stop what he described as the «stupid, absurd and irrational war between the gangs.»

The tattooed bodies of many youths appear every weekend, thrown on the streets and thickets of poor neighborhoods of the country’s cities, shot in the forehead, the back of the neck, or dismembered, the Associated Press reported.

Fundamentally, it is a problem of two gangs, known as «maras» — Mara Salvatrucha and La 18 — which spread terror.

There are over 200 gangs in the country of 6.5 million, with a total of some 100,000 members, ranging in age from 8 to 35. Drugged, they rob, rape and kill, after fighting with their own companions with clubs, knives and firearms.

The police have started a program to educate gang members, but their numbers are still growing.

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