I was given enough warnings in just a few days that it would take a crazy person to not be a little nervous walking down the streets or riding public transportation in San Salvador.
On Monday, I opened the newspaper El Diario de Hoy and read that there had been “319 less homicides” compared to the same period January to September last year. This year only 2,171 people have been murdered in El Salvador!
It is important to notice that El Salvador is geographically about the size of Massachusetts which had a total murder rate of 184 in 2007. Granted, there is a significant difference in the size of the populations of these two places. El Salvador has a population of 5.8 million people. However, if we compare it to another large city like Los Angeles that has 3.7 million people the contrast is shocking. Los Angeles has reported 205 murders this year. The entire state of California which has a population of approx. 36.5 million reported 2,260 murders in 2007, as compared to the 2,171 murders reported in El Salvador in the first half of this year.
In June, Cemujer was part of the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence. In El Salvador, 8 out of 10 murders are committed with small arms. According to a 2004 UN report there are 450,000 illegal guns in circulation in El Salvador. The numbers could be higher today. Cemujer is pushing for tighter laws regarding the arms trade in El Salvador and Central America.
One things is for sure, the level of violence in this country is high. Even though there is talk about its reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the Americas being slightly misleading. It still seems wise to take many precautions when traveling around.
Posted By Hannah McKeeth
Posted Sep 26th, 2008