El Salvador's Sorrowful State

Emigration, Gangs and an Average of 10 Murders a Day

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, DEC. 21, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- This small Central American nation is having more than its share of big problems.

According to a poll from the University Institute of Public Opinion, the vast majority of Salvadorans are worried about rising prices and a grim spate of violence which is claiming, on average, 10 lives a day.

The poll was conducted Nov. 11-20 among 1,876 people. About 72% of those interviewed maintained that the cost of living has increased significantly during this past year.

Another 57.2% think that delinquency-related violence increased; 23% say things are unchanged. Another 19.8% state that violence has decreased.

Data from the National Civil Police indicate that between January and November 3,395 murders were reported, up 22% from the 2,762 reported during all of 2004. According to public security authorities, gangs are responsible for 60% of the murders that occur in the country.

The indices of violence have persisted in El Salvador in spite of the government’s program against gangs.

Bishops’ letter

In a pastoral letter published Nov. 24, the Salvadoran bishops’ conference denounced the serious social problems affecting this country of 6.7 million.

The bishops say that the perpetrators of violence «kill in order to steal; they kill out of vengeance; they are paid to kill; they kill while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; they almost always murder with firearms that circulate almost without control; they murder in cold blood; they murder with the luxury of barbarity and with complete impunity; some even say that they murder as a method of social cleansing.»

Benedict XVI, while receiving the credentials of the Salvadoran ambassador to the Holy See on Dec. 1, launched an appeal to world leaders to help end the violence in El Salvador.

«The sorrowful and vast problem of poverty that induces many Salvadorans to undertake the risky road of emigration with all of its aftereffects in the family and social realms, has serious consequences in the field of education, health and housing,» the Pope said.

Such a problem, he added, «constitutes a pressing challenge for the governments and those in charge of public institutions to ensure that [the people] have at least the primary goods and find the indispensable means that permit and promote their integral development.»

The recent «Human Development Report-Salvador 2005» noted that emigration to the United States has increased, even after the peace pacts that ended 12 years of fratricidal war in El Salvador.

«The faraway brothers,» as they call the Salvadorans who have emigrated, have become the principal economic force in the country because of the money they send back to their families.

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