Gangs, Government and Journalism in El Salvador
An online newspaper in El Salvador is facing threats because of its stories about alleged negotiations between the government and criminal gangs.
The publication, El Faro, ran an article last week detailing a government deal to give certain benefits to jailed gang leaders like transfers to better prison facilities or even money if they would cut back on the violence.
El Salvador has the second highest homicide rate in the world (after Honduras) at 66 per 100,000 people and much of the killing is attributed to gangs.
In its stories, El Faro reported that after the alleged agreement was reached, only three murders were reported, down from an average of 14 per day.
In its article, El Faro reporters gave details of their conversation with a gang leader still on the streets. The gang member said murders planned for the very day that got the order to “calm down” were cancelled.
Imprisoned gang leaders did get transferred to another prison, but government officials deny striking any deal.
El Faro editor and founder Carlos Dada said in an email published by Spain’s El Pais newspaper that government sources have said that by publishing the article “El Faro’s risk level has greatly increased.”
Gangs have targeted journalists. In 2009, French documentary filmmaker Christian Poveda was killed in El Salvador after finishing an award-winning documentary, “La Vida Loca” on gang life in El Salvador.