Since the beginning of this year (a mere 36 days ago), around 440 murders have been reported in El Salvador. The victims range from political activists, presumably killed for their opinions and public pronouncements, to bus drivers, robbed and murdered by groups locally called delincuentes. Recently in Suchitoto, 7 people were killed in a single incident, now being pronounced a massacre by community members. If this pattern of violence continues consistently, the country could expect to experience near 5,000 homicides this year.
In comparison, New York City, whose population size is similar to El Salvador’s, reports only 412 homicides for the entirety of 2009. Los Angeles, which historically has a relatively high crime rate, reports 51 murders this year, and 747 in 2009. However, the population of Los Angeles is at least 9,862,049 (2008 Census), with nearly 2 million additional inhabitants than the 2008 population of El Salvador. Besides population differences, the LA murder rate equals only 62 deaths per month.
Despite the alarming statistics, the motivation behind these violent acts remains largely unclear. The Policía Nacional Civil promises to investigate all homicides, but to date many of these murders are still unsolved. The Police and the Fiscalía (Attorney General) suspect that much of the violence may be related to gang activity, but there are no definite conclusions. Some have stated that the violence may be a result of the change in government and the new authorities in the public security sector, while others still believe that the rationale is a mix of social, economic, and political factors.
For more on the “Homicide Phenomenon,” see the following the articles:
El fenómeno del homicidio– ContraPunto
Seguridad sigue siendo un problema– La prensa grafica
Suman 51 homicidios en tres días de febrero– El Diaro de hoy