My husband mentioned this week that our brother in law wants to bring his daughter over to the U.S. She is a pre-teen. “Bringing her over” must be in quotes because of the journey it entails. He will not fly down to El Salvador to go pick her and her suitcases up. “Bringing her over” means getting her here the long way.
I spoke with his sister at a party last night who has a pre-teen, too. The urgency of their family situation unfolded for me.
From FOTONICA.TV: guerreras-mujeres-y-violencia-en-el-salvador/. Click on Photo to link to site.
She also wants to bring her daughter over here, because she is “metiendo en la mara” and is “mas tremenda” than my brother in law’s girl. Her daughter is more the rebel, and starting to run with a gang. She wants to get her out of there before it’s too late.
These cousins live in close conditions and are near each other all the time.
Running with the wrong crowd in America can mean screwing up your life – getting bad grades in school, maybe not making it to college. In some cases it can mean getting into drugs and possibly dying.
Running with the wrong crowd (La Mara) in El Salvador is several notches higher – very often it means death down the road for your child and/or anyone who lives or spends time with them – even ones who want nothing to do with the gang.
As much as I’d like them to remedy the situation there, in this case I agree – Get the Girls Out of there Before It’s too late.
Besides being a police officer, which we know is treacherous here. You will probably guess someone who works in high altitudes or high risk construction or engineering job, or something of the like.
Drumroll please…..and the winner of the most dangerous job in El Salvador is: Bus Driver!!
This is one of the riskiest professions in this country. At least once a week, if not 3 or more times, we see the image of yet another torched bus on the evening news. Bus drivers and ‘cobradores’ (fare collectors) are expected to pay rent demanded by gangs, which can range from 10 to 15 dollars a day, or a couple grand or more per month, depending on the route. When the driver cannot or wont pay rent, its “flames” to the vehicle, often accompanied by execution. Passengers are marched off the bus, and the gang quickly ignites its latest example of what happens when you fail to pay rent.
Buses also serve as a fine source of theft income for gangs, outside of extorting the driver. My husband was robbed on a bus, along with several other victims in August of 2009, in front of the infamous Tiendona market on his way back from English class. He was sad to have lost his wedding ring, but relieved to get away with his finger intact, as it was a struggle to remove the ring. Fortunately, the marero (gang member) helped him get it off by prying it off my husbands finger with his teeth. Needless to say, I have avoided buses in most of the city since arriving to live here.
Market vendors and small business proprietors experience extortion similar to that of bus drivers, and are often victims of violence when dues are not paid.
An additional factor in life-risking occupation is often brought on by the bus drivers themselves. A reckless “I own the road” attitude many of them have causes accidents left and right. As they race along a high speed chase to collect as many fares as possible (have to cover the ‘rent’ and then some) they endanger their life and everyone else’s.
March 28, 2010 – original diary entry, and updated.