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      Gang Truce Lifts Salvadoran Economic Prospect

      Organization of American States' (OAS) Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza, left, visits gang leaders in a prison in San Salvador on July 12, 2012.

      El Salvador's gang truce still is holding after four months, gaining support from Organization of American States (OAS) officials and positive improvements for the country's bond market. A national delegation of gang interventionists returns from El Salvador this week with recommendations for social and economic assistance.

      A July 12 Bloomberg News headline declared, "Gang Truce Spurs Bond Rally as El Salvador Murders Drop 70 Percent." The investor return on the Salvadoran bond market has risen significantly as gang shootings decline. Investor return on debt is 6.4 percent for El Salvador compared to 4.9 percent for Panama and 2.2 percent for Costa Rica, the Bloomberg story noted.

      Hooded gang members hand over weapons to authorities as part of the truce between gangs in San Salvador on July 13, 2012. Since early March, when the truce began, El Salvador's homicide rate has plummeted from 15 per day to five, saving no less than an estimated 1,200 lives. The truce began with members of Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street on March 9, after mediation by the Catholic archdiocese and Raul Mijango, a former commandante and legislator. On July 12, Juan Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the OAS, met with the truce leadership in the confines of Mariona prison in Esperanza, promising official support. The following day, July 13, gang members turned over at least 80 large-caliber weapons as a gesture of their commitment to a new path. "They weren't broken pistols, they were AK-47s and bombs," according to one source.

      "It's milagro [miracle]," said former MS leader Alex Sanchez in Los Angeles. Sanchez was asked by the imprisoned truce leaders for advice, support and assistance in forging the fragile truce after decades of street warfare. The Salvadorans were interested in the peace process model long championed by Sanchez' organization, Homies Unidos. Ironically, Sanchez is under federal indictment in Los Angeles on gang conspiracy charges for the very interventionist activity now taking root in El Salvador. He has been free on bail for almost two years.

      The delegation to El Salvador included Luis Rodriguez, the author and former gang leader, Paula Cruz-Takash, president of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, Luis Cardona, an advocate in Washington DC from Montgomery County, Maryland, Enrique Hurtado of Aztec Rising, Juan Pacheco of Barrios Unidos, Carmen Perez of Gathering for Justice, founded by Harry Belafonte, and Aquil Basheer, executive director of Maximum Force Enterprise.

      For more information and to voice your support for The Transnational Advisory Group in Support of the Peace Process in El Salvador, please contact:

      • Dr. Paule Cruz Takash, City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission:

      • Alex Sanchez, Homies Unidos:

      • Luis Cardona, Gathering for Justice:

      • Juan Pacheco, Barrios Unidos:

      See also by Tom Hayden, "Peace Is Breaking Out Among Salvadoran Gang Members," and "Support Mounts for Salvadoran Gang Truce."

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