Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 23 in El Salvador: Buenos Dias America

Hello Everyone,
Well just writing to you all again on a sunny monday in El Salvador. A bit of good news, we had a baptism on saturday. It was another Child, but hey we are in a pretty rough area. We were pretty depressed yesterday, because our possible baptisms for the next weekend decided that they had better thangs to do on sunday than go to church... I think they are still going to be able to do it, but probably for this 25th of september.
I hope you guys are having fun out there in California and Utah.
Teresa I hope the MTC is treating you well, I liked it a lot. Just stay away from the greasy food....I think I`m still recovering from it. All I know is that 2 months goes by Really fast, and after that you have to actually work :P
This week was kinda interesting, because politically there has been some pretty crazy stuff heppening. They are pushing a law that will make it so that anyone involved in gang activities will get harsher punishments. I`m not exactly sure what it says, but it is the kidna stuff that is allready laws in the united states. But anyways the gangsters decided to put on a "protest" this last week. Starting on tuesday of last week The gangsters said that there were going to just kill random people to protest the law. So we stayed in all tuesday, and wednesday and thursday we had to erter that house at 7 PM. It was pretty crazy, I guess they killed a lot of people. But its just a natural occurance in El Salvador. Oh btw remember that bus bombing that happened about 2-3 months ago? That was in my area! About half of my area is in San Salvador, and Half is in Mejicanos. But we havent really had any problems. Only the usual drunks begging money, or whatever they can think of from you.
oh yeah and we painted a school on saturday.
Well I don`t really have much more to say, its been a kinda boring week. Hope all goes well,
Elder DeVictoria.

Here is an article my husband found about the bus bombing:

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (by DIEGO MENDEZ) — Gang members opened fire on a bus on the outskirts of El Salvador's capital, then doused it with gasoline and set it on fire, killing at least 14 passengers in what the president on Monday called an act of terror. Police managed to break windows and help 13 people escape the flames but others died inside. Sixteen people suffered injuries in the late Sunday attack, officials said.

"This is an act that seeks to generate terror among the population," President Mauricio Funes said, adding that his security Cabinet was to meet to increase security in the country.

Violent youth gangs have besieged the public transit system in this small Central American nation to extort bus workers and largely impoverished commuters and travelers. The armed assault was the deadliest attack this year on a passenger bus.

The attack took place in a gang-plagued part of the municipality of Mejicanos, just outside San Salvador, National Police Commissioner Carlos Ascencio said. At least 14 people were killed, he said. Moments later, gang members opened fire on another bus in the same neighborhood, killing two people. Ascencio said Monday night that eight suspects had been arrested in the bus burning, including one who was detained minutes after the attack and smelled of gasoline. Among the detained were a woman and two minors.

Earlier, Funes said seven suspects had been detained, most accused of being members of the Mara 18 street gang. Justice Minister Manuel Melgar called the attack "a typical terrorist act," but said the motive was under investigation. At least 217 drivers and other employees of El Salvador's public transport industry have been killed over the last year and a half in suspected gang attacks, said Catalino Miranda, president of the national federation of transport workers and businessmen. Most victims were shot to death. He said more than 50 buses had been set on fire. Three of the burnings, including Sunday's attack, caused deaths. Two people were killed in a bus burning earlier this year, and one was killed last year. Miranda estimated extortion demands had cost the industry some $18 million in 2009.

El Salvador has an estimated 13,500 gang members, some 5,700 of whom are in prison. It is one of Latin America's most violent countries.

He also found this article about the recent troubles:

The army has been using trucks to help people get to work

Public transport in El Salvador has been severely disrupted for a third day by a strike enforced by street gangs, angry at a new law making gang membership a criminal offence.The Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs told transport operators to observe the shutdown, or face the consequences.Thousands of troops have been deployed to protect bus drivers and commuters.The anti-gang law was introduced in July after gang members set fire to a bus, killing 17 people.The BBC's Eric Lemus in the capital San Salvador says most bus companies there and across the country appear to have given in to the gangs' threats.He said about 80% of public transport was suspended, although some private drivers in pick-up trucks had been carrying passengers for much higher fares. Many businesses also shut down for fear of reprisals after the gangs circulated leaflets telling them to close or "face the consequences". Police and soldiers have been escorting the vehicles that have been carrying passengers, and the army has also been using trucks to help people get to work. 'State of rebellion' The street gangs - known as Maras - ordered the shutdown to put pressure on president Mauricio Funes not to sign a new law which would make membership of a gang a criminal offence.

The law, which has been approved by El Salvador's parliament, makes the Mara 18 and Salvatrucha proscribed organisations, and describes them as "social extermination groups". But Mr Funes said his government would not be moved by intimidation and threats. "I affirm that I will sign the law," he said on Wednesday. "We saw this coming. As we close in on them, they are reacting." Mr Funes says the law is aimed at gang leaders and those who finance them. Unlike previous anti-crime laws, it includes measures to stop young people joining the gangs and to help them escape from a life of crime. The protest has extended to El Salvador's prisons, where hundreds of jailed gang members have declared themselves in a "state of rebellion". Masked gang members interviewed on Salvadorean television said they had called the strike because they felt the government was excluding them from a national debate on how to reduce violent crime. "We want to start a transparent process of dialogue aimed at finding a solution to the violence," the Mara 18 gang member said. The gangs also want improved conditions for prisoners.

El Salvador's gangs have their roots in immigrant street gangs of the US. Over the years they have grown to become powerful trans-national criminal organisations with thousands of members. They are heavily involved in drug trafficking and extortion, and have a reputation for ruthless violence. El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world, with around 10 killings a day in a country with a population of just over seven million.

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