El Salvador’s Murder Epidemic and the Paradox of Peacebuilding Success

Soldiers guard a corner in a gang-controlled neighborhood in Ilopango, El Salvador, Aug. 31, 2015 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).
Soldiers guard a corner in a gang-controlled neighborhood in Ilopango, El Salvador, Aug. 31, 2015 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).
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On Jan. 16, El Salvador commemorated the 24th anniversary of the peace accords that ended the country’s 12-year civil war between the government and the then-rebel Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). But despite a quarter-century of peacebuilding, El Salvador continues to face the scourge of widespread violence: In 2015, the country’s homicide rate hit 104 per 100,000 people, a dramatic increase from 61.8 in 2014 and the worst in the world. To put the magnitude of that proportion in context, the World Health Organization classifies a rate of 10 per 100,000 people as an epidemic. El Salvador’s murder rate […]

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