Exports from the United States find their way to the four corners of the earth, and most of them are quality products. A major exception is the gang-bangers who learn their business in Los Angeles and other U.S. metropolitan areas and take it home to El Salvador.
Chaos and violence is tearing apart that Central American country thanks in large part to two criminal organizations, Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street gang. The combined membership of both gangs ranges from 30,000 to 60,000, in prison and out, depending on whom you talk to.
The two groups have most of the small country divided up. There once was a truce between the two rivals but that is no longer the case. They murder, steal from and terrorize one another and the civilian population.
Police are badly underpaid
A third element in the mix is the police, not nearly as numerous as the gang-bangers and seriously underpaid and under equipped. The cops have taken matters into their own hands, kicking in doors in the middle of the night and executing suspected gang members on the spot.
This type of summary justice is tolerated if not directly ordered by the country’s political leaders. Some of them figure that their society has deteriorated to the point that extreme solutions are required.
So bullets are flying and bodies are piling up, a situation that is rapidly making El Salvador the deadliest country in the Western Hemisphere if it isn’t there already.
Refugees are on the move
The country is beginning to resemble Syria or Iraq, where law and order and justice are hard to come by and no one knows who is in control. Refugees are on the move, looking for better places to raise their families.
The problem is that El Salvador is much closer to the United States than any of the war-torn Middle Eastern trouble spots.
While Syrians and Iraqis pour into neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon, Salvadorans looking to pull up roots and relocate have their hearts set on the United States for the most part.
And here we sit with an immigration policy that is either nonexistent or totally inadequate to deal with the realities on the ground. What’s more, our elected officials are gridlocked in Washington or out campaigning for the next election instead of doing something about it.