Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador supports efforts to mediate a local truce between two rival gangs, stressing that the country must work together to achieve peace.
“We are now at a stage in which society as a whole needs to take action in order to guarantee that the progress achieved with the gangs is not frustrated,” Archbishop Escobar Alas said.
The two gangs, known as Mara Salvatrucha and Mara-18, are considered the main instigators behind the violence that has plagued El Salvador in recent years. With 65 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, El Savaldor has become the second most violent country in Latin America.
In recent comments to reporters, Archbishop Escobar Alas praised the work being carried out by Archbishop Fabio Colindres of the Military Archdiocese, who worked with former guerilla leader Raul Mijango on March 9 to achieve a truce between the gangs.
However, while the rate of violence in the country has declined, he said, this does not mean that both gangs have disappeared.
“The efforts of Archbishop Colindres, with all due respect, were only an act of mediation,” Archbishop Escobar Alas added.
“I sincerely don’t think the solution to the problem of gangs is in the Church’s hands. Society as a whole and the government, with the support of various social sectors, have the responsibility.”