miércoles, 7 de agosto de 2013

Church distances itself from gangs ceasefire in El Salvador

The Church in El Salvador distanced itself through declarations made in May and early August from the ceasefire street gangs began in March 2012 with Government backing and help from mediators that included the Armed Forces Bishop. The Archbishop of San Salvador José Luis Escobar Alas said on 5 or 6 August that any further mediation efforts by the bishop were "in a private capacity, and he has every right to do so," the website infoCatólica reported. The cleric made his comments to the press, confirming the position adopted by the Salvadorean Bishops Conference, which declared on 12 May that the ceasefire had not enhanced ordinary people's security and qualified the crimes of the Mara gangs as terrorism. The Church appeared here to be closer to the ceasefire's critics, which include opposition politicians and the head of the public prosecution service Luis Martínez. The Archbishop nevertheless stated that "Monsignor [Fabio] Colindres has...without doubt with the best intention felt moved to collaborate with this effort and it is natural in his condition as chaplain to the Army and the Police that he should back the Government." The Archbishop told a journalist that "the Church's position is the one expressed in the communiqué and has not changed. This process is not ours. We respect it but it belongs to the Government." The Defence Minister stated in turn on 5 August that the Government had no pact with the gangs, as opponents intermittently allege. "We do not speak of a ceasefire, we speak of a pacification process that has various elements - police actions, the work of the prosecution service, the incorporation of different sectors in the fight against crime." David Munguía Payés said rampant violence had declined in the country even if the state had not yet managed to curb all offences, notably extortion. Police put at 63 the number of those killed in presumed criminal incidents in the first five days of August, which was 21 more than for 1-5 August 2012, the website elsalvador.com reported. This corroborated recent concerns about the fragility of the "ceasefire" amid the rising violence observed since June. Nevertheless registered murders between 1 January and 5 August remained lower than for that period in 2012, the comparative figures being 1,363 and 1,779, the National Civil Police stated. Elsalvador.com cited police reports on 6 August that attributed to the Maras or street gangs over 80 per cent of registered extortions in El Salvador.