C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 002978
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10 YEARS
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCRM SNAR ES
SUBJECT: SALVADOR HOMICIDE RATE CONTINUES OUT OF CONTROL
REF: SAN SALVADOR 02811
Classified By: DCM Michael A. Butler for reasons 1.4(b) & (d)
Â¶1. (U) Local San Salvador press reported on November 1 that
the National Police(PNC) recorded 335 homicides in the month
of October 2005. Thus far during the calendar year, 3,115
individuals have been murdered in El Salvador, as violent
deaths have increased by thirty-nine percent over 2004.
Although two months remain in the calendar year, 2005 is
already the most violent year on record since 1999.
Â¶2. (C) According to PNC Director Ricardo Menesses, only
fifty-five percent of murders recorded in October were
attributable to gang activity. This statistic debunks claims
made by some GOES officials that up to ninety percent of
murders result from criminal gang activity. Other GOES
officials have opined that a lack of cooperation between the
Police and the Attorney General cripples the criminal justice
system and permits criminals to go unpunished. (See Reftel).
Even if all violent perpetrators were caught and
successfully prosecuted, however, the Salvadoran penitentiary
system is overwhelmed and cannot accommodate a significant
rise in convicted criminals, which causes many judges to
release violent criminals either on bond or on their own
recognizance. (See Post's 2005 Human Rights Report).
Â¶3. (C) COMMENT: As mentioned in Reftel, Plan Super Mano Dura
("Heavy Hand") is widely seen as having had no impact in
reducing violent crime, since it has led to numerous arrests
of gang members, but few convictions. The Plan also does not
address the spiraling number of violent deaths (roughly half
in October) resulting from non-gang related activity. Unless
and until the police, Attorney General's office, judiciary,
and the penal system begin to work more closely together in
addressing the violent crime issue, El Salvador's violent
crime situation will continue to spiral out of control.