Last week, the General of the Armed Forces, David Munguía Payés, said that he would continue to maintain military troops in high crime areas of San Salvador if President Funes orders him to do so. Last November, Presdient Funes deployed military troops to supoer the National Civil Police (PNC) to decrease crime and delinquency throughout El Salvador. The mandate ends in April, at which time the Funes Administration will have to renew it or let it expire.
In response to criticism to the military’s presence on the streets, General Munguía Payés contends that the military is only one part of the strategy to combat growing crime and violence in El Salvador. He further argued that the military’s presence on the streets during the past six months has resulted in a decrease in crime and delinquency. The effectiveness of the military presence, however, is uncertain. In just the first few weeks of 2010, El Salvador reported 440 murders (see previous article).
General Munguía Payés pledged his full support of a continuation of the military presence if President Funes commands it.
In the same interview, General Munguía Payés discussed information that military and intelligence agencies received from Guatemala, suggesting that the Mexican Zetas drug cartel and the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvachrucha have made contacts. We posted about the Zetas last week.