Peace among El Salvador’s two major street gangs has begun

By Alex A. Alonso Staff Writer
May 21, 2012 | 7:59 p.m.

Incarcerated El Salvadoran gang members have speared headed a peace process to reduce tensions between 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha in their country.

The Catholic Church has been an instrumental arm in the process along with Raul Mijango, a former FMLN commandante and member of the post-war legislature.

Gang intervention organization Homies Unidos, based in Los Angeles, is also assisting in maintaining the peace talks as they have several former Mara Salvatrucha members working within their organization.

According to an article in The Nation by former State Senator Tom Hayden, Alex Sanchez, who has served as the executive director for Homies Unidos, is barred from assisting in the peace efforts. Sanchez was indicted in 2009 by federal government and free on bail, but as a condition to his bail, he is not allowed to come into contact with MS gang members. He is allowed to communicate with other gang members including 18th Street members, while he awaits his trial.

According to recent media reports, homicide rates have dropped from 14 to five per day in El Salvador since March. That’s about 63 less homicides per week and some are attributing the recent peace efforts for this dramatic drop.

The homicide rate in El Salvador for 2010 was 66 per 100,000, over triple that of Mexico.

Alex Alonso is an author, film maker and founder of He is the contributing author in the 2010 book entitled “Black Los Angeles: American Dreams Racial Realities” (New York University Press). He can be reached via email, at 800-249-1324, or on Twitter.

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