Last Year Donald Trump's administration declared war against the scourge of MS13, the violent transnational gang that emerged in the predominantly Salvadorian community in 1980s Los Angeles and in more recent years, after mass deportations of suspected gang members from the US in the 1990s, has ravaged the tiny Central American nation of El Salvador.
As the reach of the gangs spreads and intensifies across much of the central American region with clicas of both Mara Salvatrucha and their bitter rivals the 18th St Gang taking hold in both Guatemala and Honduras and with both gangs becoming more inextricably tied to drug and human traficking cartels, scores of normal law abiding citizens have fled north towards the US frontier seeking escape from a world of extreme violence.
I travelled to El Salvador in April of 2018 to explore the undending culture of extreme gang violence that has compelled so many people to flee in search of peace and stability in a country whose political administration have expressed nothing but disdain for their very exisence referring to them as "animals".
the following essay is the first of three stories that explore the brutality and chaos of El Salvador but also aim to show the work being done to combat violence as well as the deep well of kindess andgood that is found in this country of extreme darkness. The violence in San salvador permeates everything. it impacts everyone in the city both directly and insidiously. Everyone lives in anticipation of the violence impacting on their lives. the streets lie empty at night. the night carries a serenity that few cities