Leaders of El Salvador’s Mara street gangs said Tuesday that they are ready to start negotiations with the government toward a permanent peace pact following the success of a three-month-old temporary truce that has lowered the Central American country’s murder rate dramatically. The gang leaders said during a ceremony at the Izalco prison to celebrate the first 100 days of the truce that they want the government to offer job programs or some other sort of aid to gang members in exchange.
While the homicide rate has dropped from around 14 a day at the beginning of the year to approximately 5 per day under the truce, levels of other crime seem to have dropped little if at all. There are also reports that the number of missing persons is increasing, suggesting that some of the drop in the homicide rate is simply that the bodies are not being found. Yet even with those caveats, there seems to be little doubt that the gang truce has momentarily improved the security situation in El Salvador.