El Salvador Gang Truce


How did El Salvador cut its murder rate in half in just four months? It organized a truce between major gangs. How did it do that? That's an even more interesting question - and we have the answers.

Part Two of The Current

El Salvador Gang Truce - Panel

We started this segment with a song by La Grande Mara Salvatrucha, a hip-hop group associated with the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13. The gang was born in Los Angeles, California, but when the U.S. began deporting its members in the 1990s, it came to flourish in the streets of El Salvador.

The gangs flourished, but El Salvador did not. It had one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. Then, four months ago, MS-13 struck a peace deal with its major rival -- a gang known as Barrio 18.

And now, according to Carlos Dada, the editor of El Faro newspaper in El Salvador, the murder rate has been cut in half. But the truce raises difficult questions about the kinds of government concessions offered to the gangs.

To talk about the El Salvador truce, we were joined by two people. Luis J. Rodriguez is a former gang member who's now part of an international advisory committee providing expertise on building a sustainable peace in El Salvador. He's also the author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA and he was in Los Angeles. And Jose Miguel Cruz is a Professor of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University. He has done extensive research into the gangs of El Salvador. He was in Miami.

Last Word - Fountainhead Movie

We've been talking today about the influence of Ayn Rand on Washington politics. If you're curious about her work, but don't have time for all 700 pages of The Fountainhead, you're in luck; she wrote the screenplay for the 1949 movie. Gary Cooper plays Howard Rourke, the architect who blows up his building when someone dares tamper with its design.

For today's Last Word, we aired a little of Rourke defending himself at trial. If it sounds stilted and odd, that's because the whole movie is relentlessly weird.

Other segment from today's show:

Understanding Paul Ryan through Ayn Rand

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