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PostEl Salvador, the Apocalypse, and Trump; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 11/25/16 4:10 am)
Gary Moore writes:
There's a landmark article on El Salvador in the New York Times this week, with some camouflaged reference to US presidential promises. In itself, the Nov. 21 article, "Tin Cup Gangs of El Salvador," presents a picture of Central America's most densely populated nation not just as the near-apocalyptic meltdown we've grown lamentably accustomed to, but as something worse, where MS-13 and its fellow street gangs now vie with lawful society for overall dominance. The article says MS-13's estimated 60,000 members (in a nation of 6.5 million) make it "the largest of the ruthless gangs that have made El Salvador the murder capital of the world."
To look at the inside realities, the Times teamed with El Salvador's online magazine El Faro, which obtained the 1,244-page file of Operation Check, the latest big anti-gang push by Salvadoran authorities. This and other documentation led the writers to such conclusions about the gang as "They extort about 70 percent of businesses. They dislodge entire communities from their homes," and "Their violence costs El Salvador $4 billion a year." A member of El Salvador's congress who owns a bus company calculated that gang extortion has cost him $500,000 over the past 19 years. Some bus companies are said to have employees largely devoted to negotiating gang extortion agreements, as the extorters demand even Christmas bonuses and special bus transportation to the beach. Another bus company executive, with several hundred buses, has defiantly refused extortion demands, and 26 of his employees have been killed.
The article noted that periodic spectacular raids by police on gang strongholds have now escalated to where Operation Check on July 27 made a massive, go-for-broke assault on gang finances and gang fronts, after which the police displayed to the press "rows and rows of impounded buses and cars," along with 77 suspects, including captured gang CEO Marvin Ramos Quintanilla. But quizzically, the article observed, in keeping with its "tin-cup" headline, that individual gang members and even some higher-ups don't live like lords or have the global reach of the Mexican drug cartels to which they've been compared. MS-13 is portrayed as a kind of seedy, low-rent cancer, with an epitaph that sounds the apocalyptic drum roll: "El Salvador has been brought to its knees by an army of flies."
This kind of language appearing in the New York Times reminds of the blowback more than a thousand miles north in the United States, as does the article's historical examination, telling how MS-13 started when Ramos and others, long ago, were deported back to El Salvador from Los Angeles, bringing their LA gang skills with them, as a US crackdown was undertaken on illegal aliens who were also hardened criminals. The Times did not present such Latin American consequences as a prospective result of any new mass deportations by president-elect Trump, but it does seem that a media battleground is tuning up to prime the public for whatever rough water may lie ahead. At much the same time, the alt-Right-leaning news outlet Breitbart, run by Trump's chief adviser, flooded the Web with old news about a massacre in Mexico, which occurred way back in 2011 in Coahuila facing Texas--a certainly horrific milestone, with 300 alleged dead--but also an internal killing spree within the Zetas, and long past at that--as if Breitbart were using whatever it could find to load public opinion with an image of Monster Mexico. The El Salvador article--and that country's real conditions--suggest a situation of cultural slide on which the shouting may grow so loud that the blindness or judiciousness of any policy decisions could become obscured by the storm.
JE comments: Here's the NYT piece. Trump would do well to pay attention to the MS-13 example, in which deportation turned LA street thugs into an international terrorist cartel.