San Salvador, March 11, 2015: President Salvador Sanchez Ceren (L) and Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia with a picture of Archbishop Arnulfo Romero, a Salvadoran priest assassinated by a right-wing squad in 1980; church leaders are part of the nation’s search for solutions to endemic violence (source: dpa)

El Salvador counts on international help to curb gang violence

El Salvador is Central America’s most densely populated country. With six million people and a gross domestic product of $25 billion, its per capita GDP is $4,100 – not bad for a country generally considered poor by international standards. In the region, only Costa Rica does much better. El Salvador’s potential for further development is strong, but it is being held back by an epidemic of gang violence. Help from the United States and non-governmental organizations may be its best chance to curb the growing power of the drug cartels.

El Salvador’s economy is notable for the fact that it does <i>not</i> produce bananas. Rural areas are characterized by smallholdings that p...

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Dr. Joseph S. Tulchin
Enabled by a weak state and an ineffectual police force, these criminal groups took control of poorer neighborhoods in Salvadoran cities. They supported themselves by extortion rackets and kidnapping, while engaging in violent turf wars with rival gangs
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