During the 1980s and early 1990s El Salvador was plagued by a Civil war between an oppressive US-funded military and an insurgent guerrilla movement called the FMLN. The effects of the war left 75,000 people dead, 8,000 missing, 1 million homeless, and 1 million exiled. In 1988 the population of El Salvador was only 5.3 million. John A. Booth describes El Salvador as; “El Salvador’s real problem is extreme maldistribution of resources brought about, as in the rest of northern Central America, by centuries of external dependence and elite control.” (95) It would be extremely important to note that 1 in 6 people in El Salvador left as well. Most of these refugees fled to the United States where they were allowed to live and work under a system know as Temporary Protected Status. Many Salvadorans moved into the California/Los Angeles area, most notably the Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Here they were subjected to extortion, being hustled, and abuse from other ethnic minorities already living there and local gangs. Some Salvadoran and other Central American immigrants learned to adapt by adopting the gang culture they were abused by during their early years living in the States. “The most notable of these groups were MS-13 and the 18th Street gang (Calle 18). Over the past two decades, MS-13 "cliques," as the gangs are called, have cropped up in nearly every U.S. city that has a large Hispanic population” (Burton, 1).
El Salvador has suffered a legacy of violence over its country’s history, and the gang problem is just another facet of that legacy of violence. Tempered by the unequal distribution of wealth, with 90% of the wealth owned by .5 % of the population, tensions within El Salvador were about to break open. In the 1930s, following years of elitist rule and other social injustices, free and fair elections were allowed to take place. In 1931 Arturo Araujo was elected in... [continues]
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