This document is Annex #1 to the principal USAID "Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment" report and covers the country of El Salvador. "After the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, El Salvador has made significant strides in its post-conflict transition to a stable democracy. During the last ten years, however, violence in general has emerged as a potential threat to lasting stability and peace, and gang violence in particular has had serious impacts. In a survey conducted by Instituto Universitario de Opinion Publica (IUDOP), 91 percent of those interviewed stated that maras (gangs) were a big problem. Many academics and political analysts conclude that the problem of gangs is the second most important sociological phenomenon of violence, after the civil war. The high number of homicides-approximately 40 per 100 thousand inhabitants-gives El Salvador the unenviable ranking as one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America. In addition to homicides, there are other violent crimes, including intrafamiliar violence, robbery, extortion, and kidnapping. Central American experts suggest that 40 percent of all homicides that occur today in El Salvador involve a gang member as the victim or the perpetrator. Not surprisingly, both delinquency and citizen security have become predominant concerns for most Salvadorans."
United States Agency for International Development: http://www.usaid.gov/