The Irony of American Outrage: How US-Origin Gangs Influence El Salvador's Crisis
Written by: Sam Orlando
In a nationwide crackdown on gangs, El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele has made headlines, but what is often overlooked is the American origin of these criminal groups. Gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18 formed in Los Angeles and were later transplanted to El Salvador in the 1990s when the United States deported thousands of Salvadorans, according to investigative reports by the LA Times. These groups quickly gained control over neighborhoods through extortion and violence, resulting in an ongoing struggle that continues to impact the region today.
As the United States has been grappling with its own migration crisis, it is important to recognize the role that exporting gang violence to Central America has played in fueling this issue. While the American press has expressed outrage over President Bukele's crackdown, it has also largely neglected the broken promises made to immigrants in recent elections. In fact, President Biden has continued many of President Trump's policies in this area, in some cases even making them harsher, according to immigration activists and the American Civil Liberties Union in recent Court filings.
The situation in El Salvador has become increasingly dire as gangs continue to dominate neighborhoods and perpetrate violence, according to in-country media reports. Despite the government's efforts to combat these groups through mass arrests and labeling them as terrorist organizations, the killings have persisted. The rise of evangelicalism within the country has led to a growing movement of gang members seeking redemption and leaving their criminal lives behind.
However, President Bukele's recent crackdown has targeted not only active gang members but also those in rehabilitation programs such as those run by evangelical pastors. The President addressed this issue on Twitter, saying "If God forgives them, they will enjoy eternal life. But here on Earth they still must face the consequences of their actions." This has sparked criticism from human rights groups and security experts who argue that repressive approaches to gangs have failed in the past and do not address the root causes of crime, such as poverty and police corruption.
It is crucial for the United States to acknowledge its role in exporting gang violence to Central America and to understand the complex dynamics that have contributed to the migration crisis. While the crackdown in El Salvador has garnered mixed reactions, it highlights the need for a more comprehensive approach to tackling the issues that stem from these American-born gangs. The American press must also hold its leaders accountable for the promises made to immigrants and question whether current policies are exacerbating the situation rather than providing much-needed solutions.