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OAS and El Salvador Agree to Establish a Technical Committee of Security Assistance to Strengthen the Peace Process between Gangs

  April 8, 2013

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of El Salvador today signed an agreement on cooperation and the establishment of a Technical Committee of security assistance in the context of support for the peace process that achieved a truce between gangs, which has led to, among other results, a significant drop in the homicide rate in the Central American country.

The peace process between the two main Salvadorian gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, began in March 2012, with the decisive impetus of Bishop Fabio Colindres and social leader Raul Mijango, and with the strong support of the OAS, through the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security. In July of that year, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza traveled to El Salvador, where he committed to guarantee the peace process and participated in an event in which gang members handed over their weapons. Since then, six municipalities have been declared free of violence thanks to the peace process.

During the ceremony this morning, the OAS Secretary General said that, thanks to the peace process that began last year, in the first trimester of 2013 the number of homicides dropped by half compared with first trimester of 2012. "This meant that during this period there were 515 young people who were not killed in the fighting," Insulza said after signing the agreement, adding that "we have started down a path that is unmatched in our region."

Expanding on the decrease of violence in the Central American country, Insulza said that "a year ago, the city of San Salvador was in third place in the list of the most violent cities in the world, and now it has disappeared from the list." He added: "The truce between the gangs is just the beginning; changing the way of life of a significant number of young people, giving them hope, promoting peace and rehabilitating them is a much more complex task."

"What we are doing in El Salvador,” said the OAS Secretary General, “is one of the most significant actions we are currently carrying out in the hemisphere," because the truce "is an increasingly solid institutional response to the great problem of Central America, that is the violence," he added.

For his part, the Minister of Justice and Public Security of El Salvador, David Munguía, who signed the agreement on behalf of his government, also highlighted the achievements in the peace process. "We have made great efforts to reduce violence in an unprecedented process that we started a year ago. El Salvador was one of the most violent countries in the world with a homicide rate of 70 per 100,000 inhabitants, and in one year we decreased it to 24 per 100,000 inhabitants."

“This effort of the government and civil society would not have been as effective without the support we had from the OAS, and that's why we greatly appreciate the signing of this agreement that will strengthen the participation of the organization in support of our government. On behalf of my government, I express our infinite gratitude to the OAS for having supported us in 2012," added Minister Munguía.

The event was attended by members of the Technical Committee formed in El Salvador to lead the work of mediation, among them the Secretary of Multidimensional Security (SMS) of the OAS, Adam Blackwell; Minister Munguia; the truce mediators, Monsignor Fabio Colindres and Raúl Mijango; the President of the Humanitarian Foundation, Antonio Cabrales; the member of the Humanitarian Foundation, Leurs Paolo; the Advisor to Minister Munguia, Mario Argueta; and the SSM official in El Salvador, Carlos Orozco. In addition, the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, was present.

Before the signing of the agreement, which took place in the main building of the OAS in Washington, DC, Secretary General Insulza, with his Chief of Staff, Hugo de Zela, and Secretary Blackwell, shared a breakfast meeting with the Salvadoran delegation headed by Minister Munguia.

The Salvadoran delegation will be in Washington, DC, until Thursday, April 11 to meet with officials of several U.S. states, Congressional representatives, and representatives of friendly countries, other multilateral organizations and civil society groups of the Salvadoran community in the metropolitan area of the U.S. capital. On Wednesday, the delegation will be received by the OAS Permanent Council.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-roll of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-128/13