SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes said Saturday that the “truce” among street gangs that took effect last March “has had results,” since homicides have dropped 52 percent since then.
During the debut of his radio program “Talking with the President,” he said that with the truce in force between March and June there were 694 homicides, 52 percent less than the 1,448 racked up in the same period last year.
He said that before the truce there were 14 homicides a day around the country but that the daily average has now dropped to “four deaths.”
During the first six months of this year there were 1,562 homicides, 552 less than the 2,114 recorded during the same period last year.
He ruled out the possibility that some murders are being hidden by the gangs as “missing persons,” as some in the country are saying.
“The number of missing persons has gone down something like 25 percent, or 107 fewer disappearances (during the first six months of this year), so it is in no way certain that many homicides are listed as missing persons – it’s just not true,” he said.
“The truce has had its results,” he said, adding that the country cannot depend solely on the truce because all that does is create “a different scenario that allows the government to establish a national accord” in order to improve national security.
The Salvadoran government launched a national dialogue on May 2 aimed at reaching agreement with the different sectors of the country on how to allay insecurity.
The Organization of American States, or OAS, made a commitment recently to keep watch on adherence to the truce.
“The OAS is committed to this process,” which began last March with the truce and for which this organization will be the “guarantor,” the secretary general of that organization, Jose Miguel Insulza, said on a two-day visit to this Central American country on July 12-13.
The OAS will say “clearly and frankly what is going right and what is going wrong, what has made progress and what hasn’t,” he said.
During his first radio program, which will broadcast every Saturday, Funes tackled different subjects of national interest and answered calls from Salvadoran citizens pre-recorded on a cost-free line, which unfortunately had technical problems at airtime.
The one-hour program was broadcast live from the presidential residence on state-run Radio Nacional and was transmitted by 30 radio stations around the country, an official communique said.
The secretary of communications for the presidency, David Rivas, said how pleased he was at the huge audience that tuned in to the first edition of the program and at its impact on social networks, where it quickly became one of the hottest topics in El Salvador, according to the bulletin, in which the secretary also apologized for the technical problems that had arisen.