Gangs Paralyze Business, Transport for 3 days in El Salvador   Leave a comment

On Monday night, September 6, 2010, a series of events began that was later revealed as a gang-imposed halt (“paro”) of bus routes and businesses throughout El Salvador.  A microbus on route 29-F in Ilopango (colonia Felipe) was burned.  Threatening notes were left for business owners and buses to shut down or else pay the consequences, until further notice. Six gang members who distributed threatening pamphlets were arrested.  See the text of one threatening note at the end of this article in Spanish, and translated to English.

The entire city of San Salvador has been turned upside down, and the country in large part paralyzed.  Pedestrians who normally ride buses are walking where they need to go.  Dozens of bus lines have stopped running, and businesses where shuttered for the day – news footage showed rows of shops closed.  Links below from and translated into English on Google translate describe widespread suspension of bus service:

Buses Suspended (Paro por Maras) – in Spanish
Bus Suspension (b/c of Gangs) – English

A representative from the police interviewed on the news told citizens “not to pay attention” to the threats and to go about their business.  What about people who got a note?  Jails in the country were in a state of emergency.  A priest came out on television news as a spokesman/mediator for jailed gangmembers, voicing their demands.  Apparently, the two major gangs, “18” and “MS,” normally in conflict with each other, actually met to work together to create chaos and make demands.  They communicated to the media they would like to meet with authorities to negotiate.  Police and military chiefs said “no way,” we don’t negotiate with criminals who kill people every day.

At least once or twice a week, a bus is torched in El Salvador (that’s normal, can you believe it?).  But today on route 12, in Chalchuapa, in the department of Santa Ana, a bus was burned; according to authorities this bus line had received threats related to this gang “paro.”

A list of halted bus routes was announced on the news.  Here is what they displayed on the TV, which was a partial list of suspended routes, for those interested:
41a,b,c and 19 – Soyapango….
29 – Ilopango….
20-24 – Cuscatancinco…
11-21 – San Marcos….
38 – Apopa…
17 – Panchimalco (which passes through my town)

I asked a friend who has lived in El Salvador all of her life ‘when was the last time this happened?’.  She said this is the very first time.

Text from a Threatening Note -“PARO” (HALT) imposed by Salvadoran gangs:

“Se hace un llamado a los miembros de este negocio que para el dia mañana sierran [cierran] sus puertas.  Si alguien se encuentra trabajando se tomaran reprisalias de parte de la XV3.  Hasta Nuevo aviso.  Y de lo contrario atenganse a las consecuencias.  Atentamente; 18”

Translation to English:

“The members of this business are being called upon to close their doors tomorrow.  If someone is found working, retaliation will take place from XV3 [roman numerals for 18].  Until further notice.  Otherwise live with the consequences.   Sincerely, 18”

Multi-part series blog.  See other entries:
Gangs Paralyze El Salvador – Day Two – 8 Septiembre 2010

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