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The evolution of modern Central American street gangs and the political violence they present


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The evolution of modern Central American street gangs and the political violence they present case studies of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
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Lynch, Tristam W
University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- Government & International Studies -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
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ABSTRACT: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have experienced a history immersed in political, economical and violent turmoil that has resulted in centuries of unsettled government, weak economies, alienation, and exploitation of the masses. This turmoil dates back to Spanish forms of dictatorial rule in the sixteenth century, and English and German control of commodities and land during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Along with foreign influence, forms of dictatorial rule resulted in poor socioeconomic conditions, internal anarchy within Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and the onset of civil wars. During the Reagan Administration, the United States used these countries in Central America for strategic military, agricultural and political purposes.The poor economic and politically violent conditions continued, resulting in the formation of dangerous street gangs, youth groups violently taking control of territories and later engaging in drug trafficking. Presence of the United States military operations, the civil wars, namely the Nicaraguan Contra War throughout the Central American region, resulted in a variety of opportunities for immigrants, to migrate into the United States. Other opportunities included left over weapons by the United States military, guerillas and contras, which were used by these violent youth to intimidate the local governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and vi Honduras. However, after the Central American families migrated to avoid the poor conditions within these countries, some children became gang members due to lack of alternatives in the U.S. The U.S. authorities deported many of these youth back to their respective Central American countries because of the crimes they committed in the U.S.This deportation increased further political turmoil in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras such that these violent youth groups threaten procedural democracy from functioning. This thesis examines the historical evolution of first, second and third generation Central American street gangs, and the political violence they present in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Tristam W. Lynch.
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The evolution of modern Central American street gangs and the political violence they present :
b case studies of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
h [electronic resource] /
by Tristam W. Lynch.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 89 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have experienced a history immersed in political, economical and violent turmoil that has resulted in centuries of unsettled government, weak economies, alienation, and exploitation of the masses. This turmoil dates back to Spanish forms of dictatorial rule in the sixteenth century, and English and German control of commodities and land during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Along with foreign influence, forms of dictatorial rule resulted in poor socioeconomic conditions, internal anarchy within Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and the onset of civil wars. During the Reagan Administration, the United States used these countries in Central America for strategic military, agricultural and political purposes.The poor economic and politically violent conditions continued, resulting in the formation of dangerous street gangs, youth groups violently taking control of territories and later engaging in drug trafficking. Presence of the United States military operations, the civil wars, namely the Nicaraguan Contra War throughout the Central American region, resulted in a variety of opportunities for immigrants, to migrate into the United States. Other opportunities included left over weapons by the United States military, guerillas and contras, which were used by these violent youth to intimidate the local governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and vi Honduras. However, after the Central American families migrated to avoid the poor conditions within these countries, some children became gang members due to lack of alternatives in the U.S. The U.S. authorities deported many of these youth back to their respective Central American countries because of the crimes they committed in the U.S.This deportation increased further political turmoil in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras such that these violent youth groups threaten procedural democracy from functioning. This thesis examines the historical evolution of first, second and third generation Central American street gangs, and the political violence they present in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Harry E. Vanden, Ph.D.
0 690
Dissertations, Academic
x Government & International Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.


The Evolution of Modern Centra l American Street Gangs and The Political Violence They Present: Case Studies of Guatemala, El Salv ador and Honduras by Tristam W. Lynch A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Government and International Affairs College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Harry E. Vanden Ph.D. Steven Roach, Ph.D. Wilson R. Palacios, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 18, 2008 Keywords: Dictators, Terror, Poverty, Migrat ion, Migrants, Campesinos Indians, Civil War, Procedural Democracy, Immi gration, Maras, Laws Copyright 2008, Tristam W. Lynch


i TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF C ONTENTS --------------------------------------------------------------------------------i LIST OF TA BLES ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------iii LIST OF FI GURES -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------iv ABSTRACT -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------v CHAPTER ONE: IN TRODUCTION -----------------------------------------------------------------1 Primary Obj ective -------------------------------------------------------------------------------2 CHAPTER TWO: HISTOR ICAL BAC KGROUND ----------------------------------------------4 The Departure of Spain and the Arrival of England ----------------------------------------5 Early History: 16th –19th Centuries ------------------------------------------------------------6 Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras : Civil Wars and Exploitation --------------------9 Foreign Influenc es – 1 800s ------------------------------------------------------------------12 The Liberal Republic --------------------------------------------------------------------------14 CHAPTER THREE: MODERN HISTORY AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS 17 Guatemala/Revolution/Co unter-revol ution ------------------------------------------------18 Continued Pros perity --------------------------------------------------------------------------19 Foreign Policy and Military Coup-----------------------------------------------------------21 Economic Condi tions -------------------------------------------------------------------------22 Migration due to Povert y ---------------------------------------------------------------------27 El Salvad or -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------30


ii The Late 1970’s -1980’s ----------------------------------------------------------------------33 Honduras ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------39 CHAPTER FOUR: TRANSNATIONAL MIGR ATION TO THE UNITED STATES ----48 Migration into the United States -------------------------------------------------------------48 Living Conditions of Migran ts in United States-------------------------------------------52 Living Conditions of Teenag ers In Central America -------------------------------------55 Gang Type s -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------56 Emergence of Dangerous Youth Groups/ Gangs in U.S. --------------------------------59 Emergence of MS-13 and Mara 18 in Centra l America ---------------------------------64 Economic Activity of Gangs in Central Americ a -----------------------------------------65 CHAPTER FIVE: ADVERSE EFFECTS OF U.S. DEPORTATIONS IN CENTRAL AMERICA AND RE-ENTRY TO THE UNITED ST ATES ------------------------------------68 The Strong Hand Legislation ----------------------------------------------------------------68 Recruitment and Expansi on of Gang Me mbers -------------------------------------------70 Re-Entry into U.S. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------72 Gangs’ Control of Local Gove rnments and Co mmunities ------------------------------75 Threats to Security and Sovere ignty --------------------------------------------------------76 Procedural De mocracy ------------------------------------------------------------------------77 CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSI ON -------------------------------------------------------------------78 Effects of Globa lization ----------------------------------------------------------------------81 Alternative Responses to St rong Hand Legi slation ---------------------------------------82 BIBLIOGRAP HY --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------84


iii LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Gini Index: Guatemal a 1984-2004----------------------------------------------------23 Table 2. Distribution of Monthly Family Income in El Salvador, 1976-19 77---------------35 Table 3. Mean Production of Coffee (1,000) Pounds in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador 1909-1943----------------------------------------------------------------43 Table 4. Gini Index: Population and Population be low Poverty Line in Ho nduras---------43


i v LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Population Migration----------------------------------------------------------------29


v THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN CENTRAL AMERICAN STREET GANGS AND THE POLITICAL VIOLENCE THEY PRESENT: CASE STUDIES OF GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR AND HONDURAS TRISTAM W. LYNCH ABSTRACT Guatemala, El Salvador a nd Honduras have experience d a history immersed in political, economical and violen t turmoil that has resulted in centuries of unsettled government, weak economies, alienation, and exploi tation of the masses. This turmoil dates back to Spanish forms of dict atorial rule in the sixteenth century, and English and German control of commoditi es and land during the seve nteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Along with foreign influence, forms of dictat orial rule resulted in poor socioeconomic conditions, internal anarchy wi thin Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and the onset of civil wars. During the Reagan Administration, the United Stat es used these countries in Central America for strategic mi litary, agricultural and political purposes The poor economic and politically violent conditio ns continued, resulting in the formation of dangerous street gangs, youth groups violently ta king control of terr itories and later e ngaging in drug trafficking. Presence of the Un ited States military operation s, the civil wars, namely the Nicaraguan Contra War through out the Central American regi on, resulted in a variety of opportunities for immigrants, to migrate into the Unit ed States. Other oppo rtunities included left over weapons by the United States military, gue rillas and contras, which were used by these violent youth to intimida te the local governme nts of Guatemala, El Salvador and


vi Honduras. However, after the Central Amer ican families migrated to avoid the poor conditions within these count ries, some children became gang members due to lack of alternatives in the U.S. The U.S. authorities deported many of thes e youth back to their respective Central American countries because of the crimes they committed in the U.S. This deportation increased further poli tical turmoil in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras such that these violent youth groups threaten procedural democracy from functioning. This thesis examines the historical evolutio n of first, second and third gene ration Central Am erican street gangs, and the politi cal violence they presen t in Guatemala, El Sa lvador and Honduras.


1 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have a long history of alienation and exploitation of the masses due to centuries of domination and military dictatorships. The evolution of Central Amer ican street gangs and th e political violen ce they presen t are based on the long, complex, rich, yet interesting political history of three specif ic countries, examined here as case studies: Guatemal a, El Salvador and Honduras. To broaden the explanation of their evolution, one cannot igno re their surrounding Central American neighbors, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Early history indicates that re pression within the re gion was widespread as reported by Edelberto To rres Rivas (1993 and 1989)1. More recently par ticular wars, civil wars in Guatemala, El Salvador and the United States against Nicaragua in the Nicaraguan Contra War, as examined by Schmalzbauer (20 05), played a role in Honduras’ poor economy in the 1980’s. These wars he lped pave the way for the em erging youth and the ensuing violence they now present. Poor conditions, in particular anar chy, dictatorship, civil war, and poor economies thr oughout their respective backgrounds, caused ma ny citizens of these countries to emigrate to the U. S., a process known as transnationa l migration. A look into the history of these transnat ional migrants’ past explains how th ese Central American street gangs have evolved and the political violence they currently presen t for the respective Central American countries and the U.S. 1 Edelberto Torres Rivas was born to a Nicaraguan father, educated in Guatemala, and worked in Costa Rica. He is an expert adviser on the history and society of Central America and many scholars and students have referred to his works including those cited in this thesis.


2 Primary Objective The primary objective or rese arch question for this thesis is “How did street gangs evolve and eventually flourish in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras ?” For the purpose of this thesis, the term “flourish” is selected to study the factors that contri bute to the spread and infiltration of gangs within a nd across societies. To addr ess this resear ch question, my methodological approach will be an historical anal ysis of these three spec ific countries as case studies in order to expl ain the evolution of Central Ameri can street gangs and the political violence that they present for th e respective governments and societies. Prio r to discussion of these case studies, the early hi story and background on the Cent ral American region will be briefly discussed becaus e particular Central American nei ghbors interacted with these three countries. For the purpose of this research, the term “gang” will be referred to using Miller’s alternate definition, as hi s definition includes thre e specific types of ga ngs: turf-oriented, gainoriented and fighti ng gangs. Miller refers to these as law violati ng youth groups. According to Miller (1982)2 (cited in Howell 1994: 497 ), “a law violating youth group is an association of three or more youths whose members engage recurrently in illegal activities with the cooperation and/or moral s upport of their compani ons”. The reason I de cided to us e Miller’s definition of a gang in my research is because Miller’s 1982 description of fighting gangs, his third gang type, is similar to the concept of a third generation ga ng provided by Manwaring (2005). Both definition s consist of th e same elements and are congr uent with each other, but 2 Miller’s research (1982) was used in early studies beca use of limited knowledge of gangs in The United States and thus became a baseline for the research conducted by Howell (1994), director of the office of juvenile justice and delinquency at the United States Department of Justice.


3 have different names and their studies appeared in different years. The fighting gang described by Miller (1982) and the third generation gang described by Manw aring (2005) are of most relevance to my research because this ty pe of gang is new and has evolved over time. The third generation gang includes all the elemen ts of the firs t generation (tur f-oriented) and second generation (gain-orient ed) gangs, which will be discussed in this thesis. 3 Chapter Two introduces the reader to the politically viol ent background and se ts the stage for the causes of migration. Chapter Three disc usses the modern history and socioeconomic conditions of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Chapter Four examines transnat ional migration to the United States. Chapter Five examines adverse effects of U.S. deportatio ns in Central America and re-entry to the United Stat es. Chapter Six concludes this thesis with an overview of the effects of globalization as well as alternative responses to strong hand le gislation, which emerged out of Central Ameri ca, specifically Honduras. Throughout this researc h, I will stress important factors such as political violence and the effects of the violence on the masses, particularly the Indians, farm laborers, and campesinos, (peasants), explaining why people within these co untries leave and travel to the United States. Within the research, I will also discuss cultural attributes that the particular youths develop while living in the United Stat es, followed by a brief discussion on how they return to the United States even after they have been deported. 3 Dr. Manwaring holds a B.S. in Economics, a B.S. in Politi cal Science, an M.A. in Political Science, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. Source: Manwaring, 2005. IV. Biographical Sketch of The Author. “Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency.”


4 CHAPTER TWO: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Dating back as far as the sixteenth century, Spain cl aimed monopolization of the region after the Spanish Conquest, the masses, namely the Indians, farm laborers and campesinos had been disc riminated, alienated, and exploite d by the Spanish empire and the Crown’s quest for total domination over the re gion. Such domination from the Spanish was particularly evident in Guatem ala, El Salvador, Honduras, Ni caragua, and Costa Rica. As time went on forward, the Span iards continued repression of the masses and monopolized the region’s agricultural products, namely cochin eal, cacao, corn, sugarc ane, and fruits. The region itself suffered hi storical cyclical ruptures. Too many agricultural pr oducts had been shipped back to Spain, the mo therland, draining the agricultural economy (Rivas 1993: 1-11). In addition, a lock down on trade and a block on most of the Central American economy had also prevented stability in th e region creating very poor socioeconomic conditions for the ma sses at very early stages in their resp ective countries. In short, Spain and its hegemony hindered the improvement of ec onomic conditions for the masses in the entire region it dominated as a direct result of these cy clical ruptures. In other words, repetitive cyclical conditions of a poor economy for most of the ma sses continued resulting in widespread poverty, disease, la nd loss, and slavery. Spain therefore, had a monopoly over the Central American region. The Spanish monopoly was not broken until the arrival of England and the trade problems had not been improve d until the enactment of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714, which facilitated some free commerce and inter-colonial trade. However, it was not until 1744 that


5 free trade was authorized for other countries within the re gion, namely, Peru New Grenada, and the Guatemalan territory, a part of the Captaincy General of Gu atemala, New Spain. According to Rivas (1993), coloni al Central American society wa s more of an administrative appendage of New Spain, now known as Mexico (Rivas 1993: 1-5). After Independence from Spain, Rivas (1 993) reports that th e Federal Republic composed of five Central American nati ons organized in 1824 be gan the process of invigorating the old passive colonial system. Annexation to Mexico had been rejected, and monopolies had been abolished, ev ents that highlighted nascent liber alism and a sign of the first attempts at modernization (ibid). However, too much turmoil continued to exist within the Federal Republic. Accordin g to Rivas (1993: 2-3) who cites Jos Colonel Urtecho, anarchy and dictatorship were the two poles that tore ap art the Federatio n. Civil war and anarchy had erupted during the fi ve decades of separation from th e peninsular rule (ibid). Rivas (1993) asserts that this particular historical moment is recognized as a time of great frustration in attempts to orga nize political life in the region. The Fede ral Pact came to its demise and broke apar t definitively in 1842. The Departure of Spain an d the Arrival of England The influence of England over the region ma de economic matters appear better with the effect of liberal measures opening up the possibility of trade. As Rivas (1993: 6) reports, those benefits were mediated by the English and stimulated by the European industrial revolution. Thus, between 182 1 and 1825, commercial activity had doubled and optimism and confidence grew among the masses. The Br itish influence during this era is also recognized when Central Americ a attempted to consolidate vi a great public loans. These


6 public loans to modernize their respective countries’ infrastruc ture were bad ideas for both parties, the English, the lender, and the respec tive Central American country, the borrower. Although it had appeared that economic pr osperity was growing, and optimism and confidence among the masses was ge tting stronger, the reality is that the Cent ral American countries had been borrowing more than they could actually pay bac k, causing major credit problems and debt issues (Rivas 1993: 6-7) Moreover, the Englis h were left without repayments on many of their loans, which caused tensions to flar e. This was the beginning of anarchy within the regi on and the search for political and ec onomical stability continued to be a main concern for all countries involved, Guatem ala, El Salvador, Hondu ras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Early History: 16th –19th Centuries Early anarchy within the re gion had been first delivered through Spanis h policies. According to Rivas (1993: 2), the policies of the Crown made attempts at transforming the colonies into a vi able system unsuccessful. For example, they failed to produce a strong export economy and reversed any gains that the colonists had ma de, producing a weak economy. Crisis in the Central American region continued when ties had been broken with Spain. The breaking of the ties with Spain caused a major ag rarian crisis. The agrarian crisis weakened the local economies and placed a heavy burden on the campesinos. Much of the problems existed duri ng the early 1500’s be cause the local econom ies throughout Central America had been heavily reliant on Spain. The absence of a coloni al economy based on agriculture and mining prohibited a solid economic structure and political stabil ity (ibid). Moreover, Rivas (1993: 3) reports conditions worsened for the masses, namely the Indians


7 and peasants, due to the breaki ng of the Federa l Pact of 1842. First, the failure of the liberal federalist policy showed a weakness and inability of any social class to bring about a sense of nationalism. A he gemonic power could not be constituted in the face of separa ted forces of resistance. No on e particular soci al group could dominate. Anarchy continued b ecause of far too many disagreemen ts between the federalists, centralists, liberals and conservatives. Apart from the ma in political groups, confrontation existed between the Creoles and Mestizos, arguing for greater productive opportuni ties (Rivas 1993: 7). Dictatorship in the earlier periods of Central America em erged after Spanish rule and English influence, yet control ca me from the United States. Th e Spanish form of exploitation consisted of contro l over the economy in the form of trade inequali ties because trade exports from Central America were une qual to the trade the Colonists received from Spanish imports. Furthermore, Spain decided to block most trade and utilized brutality ov er individuals and groups that tried to bring about reform over th e conditions they faced, leaving many Indians and peasants living in a world of underdevelopment (Riv as 1993: 1-7; Jo nas 1991: 13-14). Underdevelopment, then, was a di rect result of the Spanish Co nquest and administration, in particular in Guatemala (ibid). England’s forms of exploitation of the ma sses consisted of cont rol over trade by any means after Spain’s departure. Once the English arrived, they seized most of the wealth of the former Spanish colonies leaving only a small frac tion of wealth for the pe asants and Indians. In addition, they seized some Central American lands for bo th military and commercial expansionism, including Guatem ala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (R ivas 1993: 5-7). Thus, in many respects, Central America became a strate gic military base fo r England. Rivas (1993)


8 noted the English also decided both diplomatically and militarily to abuse their power to forestall any unionist undertak ing in the region (ibid). England brought about dictator ial rule in a vari ety of forms, expl oiting the locals by way of controlling trade, anch oring the peasant farmers to th e land, and creati ng widespread poverty. The U.S., like England, also disrupted any forms of re form attempts, including the emergence of unions (Rivas 1993: 6). Rivas ( 1993) further reports th e Americans also took control of these co untries’ economies, and offe red capital in the form of credit, causing greater debt for the less developed countries’ economies and those who depended on them. This increased debt created widespre ad poverty and unrest among the working people. In addition, the U.S later controlled and seized lands for glob al military reach in this part of the world and the Caribbean Basin, beginni ng during the Theodore Roos evelt administ ration, 1901-1909 (Holland 200 4: 211). Roosevelt believed that onl y his country could make pol icies for Latin American affairs. The forceful impositio n of the U.S. continued, known as “the big stick,” stems from the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine4 (Papp, Johnson and Endicott 2005: 110111). Technically, Roosevelt acted as the world’s policeman. His Corollary emerged between 1902 and 1904 due to sp ecific events occurring in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. For instance, in 1903 both Germany and England ca ptured Venezuelan ships and set up a blockade due to Venezuela not making timely payments on $15 million dollars they had borrowed from the German and Engl ish investors years before (ibid). 4 The Monroe Doctrine, enunciated in December 1823, was a rejection of further extension of European political system to the Western Hemisphere. The doctrine stresse d the basic difference between the American political system and that of Europe. (Ohaegbulam 1999:21)


9 The Roosevelt Corollary stated: “If a nati on shows that it know s how to act with decency in industrial and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, then it need fear no interference from the United Stat es. Brutal wrong-doing, or an impotence which results in a general loos ening of the ties of civilized soci ety, may finally require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the United States might act as a policeman, at least in the Caribbe an Region” (ibid). This interv ention on the part of Roosevelt hindered the German and Englis h military exercises, which ha d to be settled diplomatically later to the Permanent Court at the Hague (ibid) Such foreign interven tion gave the U.S. a strong hold over the entire Central American re gion. Greater dependen cy resulted on the foreign power of the U.S. Pove rty and internal political a nd economic chaos continued to spread as a result of such a re liance. These conditions had a significant impact on all Central American governments and families, including the destruction of these countries’ infrastructure, and weakening of their local governme nts and economies. This political and economic unrest caused great disturbance for all Central American families and further instigated poverty. Of particular interest is the emergence of political violence in these three countries: Guatemala, El Salvador and Hond uras. The political control a nd conditions of each country are briefly introduced in order to explicate the causes of transnational migration out of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, in orde r to explain and place emphasis on the modern Central American gangs that have evolved. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras: Civil Wa rs and Exploitation Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras share a hist ory immersed in early Spanish and


10 English domination between the 16th and 18th centuries. They also share a common relationship of civil wars br ought on by their rights to claim independence from the great powers of Spain and England. I ndependence of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and their neighbors, Nicaragua and Costa Ri ca, was a cause, not a conse quence of civil war and much of the revolutions that later emerged from these countries (R ivas 1993: 1-5). Later, the military dictatorship, oppression and violence especially in the 1950s through the 1970s, created further discontent among the masses. These conditions were among the worst in Central America, creating unrest among the p oorest populations – Indi ans, blacks, farm laborers, and campesinos. This unrest resu lted in widespread death and migration of thousands of people. To make matters worse, civil wars added only fuel to a fire of discontentment creatin g a breeding ground for poverty, diseas es of all kinds, and forced the masses, at least most, to become revolutionaries. Civil war also created furt her economic issues such as underemployment and unemployment, leaving many farmer s without work. Civil war in Guatemala left this country barren and poor. As in its early 18th century, Guatemala’s civ il war during the 1950s-1990’s was among the worst in Centra l America leaving some 200,000 civilians dead or missing (Jonas 1991: 214) and late r explicated by Vanden and Prevost (2002: 253) Civil war and the upheavals of the 1980’s in El Salvador were a continuous problem, (some 70,000 died) taken into account with Guatemala and Nicaragua, (m ore than 30,000 people had been killed) one sees the deadly na ture of the civil war (Jonas 1991: 214). El Salvador, like Guatemala, was govern ed by military dictatorships, and suffered from conditions of abuses of power, poverty, inequality, and dependency on military rulers and the oligarchy, wealthy families that owned mu ch of the elite land that produced a wealth


11 of coffee. The oligarchy had long ties to the military and both worked with each other. Sighted by Spain in 1522 and settled by Spain in 1526, Span ish control ov er indigenous populations in El Salvador o ccurred in 1537 (Montgomery 19 94: 25). The Spaniards had destroyed the military democracy that was orga nized by the local trib es who had ownership over the land (Montgom ery 1994: 25-28). Exploitation of the Pipil Indians occurred early by the Spaniards. The Indians’ primary source of wealth was caca o. Cacao was only to be de alt with by Spanish or Mestizo exporters, who had encomienda (r oyal authority over land) duri ng this early pe riod 1560-1600 (Montgomery 1994: 26). The Spaniards had begun slavery and shipping of the slaves to vast areas of the region including Pe ru and Panama. Thus, the Span iards actually became the early dictators and the Pipil Indians became their slaves. In the 16th century, the primary source of exploitation in El Salvador came from a system of tribute, a form of extortion. Tribute kept the wealthy Indians in check, beca use it had been levi ed on their property, draining the profits produced from their cacao plantati ons (ibid). It is important to remember that the Spanish monopoly had not been broken until the arrival of England. The trade problems were lifted with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714, which faci litated some free commerce and colonial trade (Rivas 1993: 1-5). Thus the Indians had been exploited for quite some time, which facilitated anger and frustration for years. Those in Honduras had experi enced severe problems for the masses also. Honduras was not immune to the early pe riods of civil war throughout Central America in the 1800’s. Civil war continued throughout its history as it did in other parts of Central America in the 1970’s1980’s (Schmalzbauer 2005: 50-5 1). Early exploitation and control over the Honduran economy came from Spain and England. Later the United States


12 exercised control through the pr oduction of agricultura l products. As note d in Rivas (1993), one of the major problems had to do with trade inequalities. Spain created trade blocks and deprived the Honduran economy of European imports, while at the same time; the Spanish raped the Honduran economy of its primary sources of wealth, such as beef, cotton, watermelons, coffee and bananas. Such trade inequalities placed th e local campesinos and farm laborers in a position of hardship and poverty. The Engl ish used the Honduran farmers to produce the goods that we re in demand in Europe at the tim e – coffee and frui t. Yet, like Spain, England only permitted une qual economic trade agreements. This type of exploitation angered the masses, leav ing thousands well belo w the poverty line and all of them dependent on a foreign power. As a resu lt, underdevelopment and depend ency continued to spread. Foreign Influences – 1800s The entire region of Central America, specifically Guatem ala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador has be en exposed to the foreign infl uences of Spain, England, the U.S., and Germany. Such foreign influences in cluded Spanish and Engl ish occupation within the region, loans and credits from English financers out of banks in London, capital and technological investments from the Untied St ates, and German land techniques associated with its vast land such as ma ss production of primary agricult ural commodities (corn, cotton, beef, coffee, and bananas). Th ese Western European and U.S. influences left the region and its unsettled politic al and economical system struggling for organization in the midst of chaos. In terms of England and thei r loans, prior to 1856, Guatemala had a ssumed 67,900 lbs sterling in debt, of which the ma jority of that wa s left in arrears to Engl and (Rivas 1993: 6-7). In 1856, the Guatemalan government bo rrowed an additional 100,000 lb sterling just to cover the


13 first loan (ibid). This type of lending and co ntinuous borrowing left their societ y in debt, compounding their economic burden as their debt increased. This type of foreign influence intensified, spreading into El Sa lvador and Honduras, creating further burd ens for public debt and worsening the conditions of poverty for the masses, particular ly the Indians and peasants. El Salvador although more careful with it s finances than Gu atemala and Honduras, cancelled its debt to England by 1860 (Riv as 1993: 7). In 18891892, the government negotiated loans in London for 800,000 pounds gu aranteed by a tax an d a mortgage on its national railroad (ibid). Lo an monies were not adequate enough and what money had been borrowed was squandered during El Salvad or’s civil war between 1889-1892. This squandering of money and debt to England broke the econom y and decreased the general public spending and purchasi ng powers substantially. The Honduran government was dependent on England durin g the 1860’s for loans, like Guatemala and El Salvador Honduras negotiated loan s in London, England and Paris, France between 1867-1870. The government decided to borrow some 6.1 million pounds sterling to build a transoceanic railroad (Rivas 1993: 6). The railroad was time consuming and was not completed until the 1960’s (ibid). Therefore, these large loans left the masses of these countries impoverished. Much of the borrowed money fell into arrears with England, causing conflict between the countries and tension. Since England’s money was left in arrears, tensions flared between the Eng lish government and th e governments of thes e three countries. The governments of Central America, specif ically Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, ha d alternated their power betw een the conservatives and the liberals between 1821 and 1871. Ta king this alterna tion of power into account with poor economic conditions, as described in the form of incurring debt and borrowing from foreign


14 powers, the masses became angr y and very much re volutionary. The wh ole region except Costa Rica fell into a state of anarchy. An exception to this chaos was Costa Rica. In 1845, Costa Rica was unique because of its open society, open to capi talism, and the benefits of a capi talist society as well as its egalitarian values. For example, the Costa Rican government introdu ced its primary product of coffee into the world market with England in 1845 sharing a common interest-unrestricted trade. Such an economic ventur e into the free market brought Costa Rica world notoriety and profits. For this and many other reasons, Costa Rica experienced a more relaxed economic and political environment making it less revolutionary and more democratic than the other countries, and less pron e to the harsh civil wars (Rivas 1993: 17). Costa Rica’s government realized that land and its produce was their sour ce of power and influe nce. According to Rivas (1993), other Central Americ an countries needed more than thirty years to catch up with Costa Rica’s economic po sition. Rivas (1993) repo rted that “land becam e a symbol of power and influence and coffee was the easiest road to alteri ng one’s social position”. The Liberal Republic In Honduras, the libera l reforms had failed to construct the nation state in the latter half of the 19th century. Efforts to or ganize the nation, economic ally and politically and attempts to strengthen internal communications were frustrated for de cades. There were far too many foreign interests controlling the Honduran economy. Although Honduras incorporated its economy into the wo rld market at th e end of the 19th century, it was already controlled by foreign gov ernments from centuries before. Spain controlled its metal, silver, in the sixteenth century, followed by cattle, leather, cotton, banana s, and coffee. (Rivas 1993: 14-


15 20). The U.S. started control ling the agricultural sectors of the economy out of Honduras, especially in the 18th century and even in the twentieth ce ntury. The U.S. still has a large control over its economy (World Fact Book 2008). Honduras was, and remains, heavily dependent on the U.S. Thes e liberal reforms t ook place throughout th e entire Central American region. The liberal refo rm in Guatemala was very much like the liberal reforms in El Salvador, in that both saw the rise of the hacienda in the early 19th century. The hacienda represented the very first stages of capitalist development. In Guatemala, the hacienda immobilized campesinos and farm laborers through subsisten ce plots by compensating their salaries and anchoring them to the land (Rivas 1993: 23 -24; Montgomery 1994: 26-27). In El Salvador, land was impor tant to those who owned it, as it produced agricultural products creating wealth for the owner and immobilizi ng the campesinos and farm laborers who labored to till th e land, creating a sense of dependency (Rivas 1993 : 23-24; Montgomery 1994: 26-27). As Jonas (1991) re ported, in Guatemala, the Ca tholic Church expropriated lands from the Indian communities, and left the Indian communities destroyed. The best of land was used for the production of coffee, and placed in the ha nds of the new land-owners, Finqueros – the owners of Fincas – large fa rms. The worst of land was left for the campesinos. Some of these ne w land-owners were w ealthy Guatemalans. But, the majority of the new land-owners were foreigners, mainly Germans. The Indian s and the pe asants had consistently become dependent on the new land-owners, who exported much of the land products, leaving food shortages and further pov erty. Thus the wealt hy foreign land-owners (mainly Germans) residing in Guatemala for th e purpose of capital, exploited the Indian farmers for the purpose of mass production of their natural commodities and exporting their products produced from the land back to Germany (J onas 1991: 17-18). T hus, the Indians and


16 peasants who worked the land were dependent on these wealthy Ge rman land-owners and others for survival. Dependency and un derdevelopment was spr eading throughout the countries involved because of these foreign in fluences and their powe rs’ quest fo r profits. This placed continuous economic burdens on the Guatemalan government and created terrible socioeconomic conditions for the Indians and peasants. In El Salvador, the liberal reforms and the development of the hacienda created a feudal relationship betw een the land-owner s and the peasan ts who worked the land. These relationships were establishe d through debt. The land-owners had bound the Indians to the hacienda by tricking them into debt knowing the Indians could never repay (Montgomery 1994: 28). The Indian Colonos (sharecroppers) were bound to the haci enda and depended on the land-owner for survival. Underemploymen t and unemployment was very high due to the fact that many crops grew only for three m onths in the calendar year, which left many peasants out of work most of the year. The conditions re ally did not im prove until around 1880 when banking institutions appear ed and were tied to export products. Any attempt to improve conditions were quickly shut down, such as one year later in 1881 when President Zaldivar dictated community ex propriation laws when coffee ha d been the principle export product (Rivas 1993: 16) By 1897, the Entitlement Law of Rural Land had passed to the peasants. This law assu red the country’s rural st ructure to the peasants. That same year, 1897, the Registry of Property was cr eated to facilitate and docum ent the movement of land and property (Rivas 1993: 15-16). The law gran ted the peasants some economic prosperity despite the interruption of President Zaldivar, which created a sense of independence for a time as opposed to the earlier period when the Indians were tied to th e hacienda through the brutal feudal relationships that had emerged.


17 CHAPTER THREE: MODERN HISTOR Y AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS Guatemala In 1820, Guatemala witnessed an Indian uprising in which Indians and Criollos reached their height of discont ent over economic crisis and na tural disasters. Tensions continued to increase while their relationship wi th the Spanish was view ed by all sectors of society to be a heavy burden. The only two sectors within society that disagreed with Guatemala’s independence were the Catholic Ch urch and the Spanish Crown. Therefore, after 1820 and the Indian uprising of Totonicapn, the Criollo elite declared independence in 1821 (Jonas 1991: 16). Thus, Guatem ala’s independence much like all Central America was not a consequence, but rather a cause of its civil war (Rivas 1993: 3). After independence, Guatemala saw very little changes occur. The on ly main change that did occur was the fact the neo-colonial era diversified external contac ts and the power of Spai n was replaced with the dominant power of England (Jona s 1991:13-20). The Guatemalan government needed to find social order and peace, and knew that the only way to do so was to end thei r ties with Spain (ibid). Within Guatemala, power had alternated between the conservativ es and the liberals after independence, 1821-1871. Th e liberals had consolidated their power under Mariano Glvaz from 1831-1838 (Jonas 1991 : 16-17). Next, the conser vatives consolidated their power from 1839-1871 under the di ctatorship of Rafal Carr era (ibid). The peasantry continued to be exploited unde r his dictatorship and conser vative regime, protecting commercial monopolies and giving privileges to the church. The conservative s held their


18 power for a long period of time until the liberals took th eir power back in 1871, under the military revolt led by Justo Rufino Barrios (ibid). Liberalism stood for federalism, free trade, political reforms, and special interests. Thes e reforms protected the la dinos, but were very harmful to the Indian communities. The liberals were represented by Criollo Latifundistas, the Ladino, intellectuals and proindependence activists (Jonas 1991: 13 -20). With some exceptions of slight democratic interludes in the 1920’s, the liberals maintained power until the overthrow of dictat or Jorge Ubico in 1944 (Jonas 1991: 16-17). Guatemala/Revolution/ Counter-revolution The policies of Jorge Ubico, 1931-1944, consiste d of exploiting the Indi an labor force. Prime examples of this exploi tation include Ubico’s social-b ase, the Cafetero-export-import oligarchy allying with U.S. monopolies. The problem was that these alliances failed to industrialize, so that during the 1930s they responded by pr otecting their in terests, while ignoring the needs of the Indi ans and exploiting them by payi ng lower wages (Jonas 1991: 20-22). Furthermore, Ubico’s regime executed those who were labor or opposition leaders. In 1944, a small student strike fo r student autonomy erupted in Guatemala City. This strike developed into a larger general strike against the military dictatorship of Ub ico (Jonas 1991: 22). The general strike develo ped after studen ts’ demands had not been met, constitutional guarantees were denied and shots were fired against demonstrator s. After a demonstrator was killed, Ubico resigned in 1944 because he could no longer stand the m ounting pressure (ibid). After Ubico resigned, Juan Jos Arvalo was freel y elected March 15, 1945, as the first revolutionary president, and served from 1945 to 1950 (Jon as 1991:21-22). His first order of business was to establish a political de mocracy after the military dictatorship of Ubico


19 ended. Under his leadership in 1950, universal suffrage had been granted to all adults except illiterate women and 95. 2% of Indian women (Jonas 1991: 23). As inferred from Jonas (1991), these actions were vast changes for adults, especially for literate wo men, as they had no voice under the dictator ship of his predecessor, Ubico. Juan Jos Arvalo also granted freedom of speech so that the press and politic al parties were allowe d to organize freely, except the Communist Party. Social welfare programs were established and created economic growth by building sc hools, roads, homes, and hospitals. The cost of the building was one third of all state expenditures, but the measures were critic al to improving socioeconomic conditions in Guatemala. U nder President Arvalo, reform results gave Indians and some women the chance to organize, create change and improve their livi ng standards, changes they had long been denied (Jon as 1991: 23-25). This prospe rity continued with the next President, Jac obo Arbenz 1951-1954. Continued Prosperity Jacobo Arbenz continued many of the pol icies of President Arvalo. Power was bestowed upon him in 1951. Arbenz was free ly elected, noted Jo nas (1991), but later overthrown. His strategy was to build upon th e capitalist economy left by his predecessor Arvalo. However, his strate gy was confronted by challeng es that included the landed oligarchy, foreign investors of which one of the largest was the United Fruit Company or (UFCo) (Jonas 1991: 26-34). The UFCo did not care for the policies of Arbenz because his policies threatened the vast am ount of land owned by the UFCo and the fruit they produced. Under Arbenz’s leadership, dramatic change s in foreign policy re sulted, especially toward the U.S., and internal monopolies over fruit, cr ops, rail and electr ic companies.


20 Arbenz sought to break depe ndence on these monopolies with in Guatemala (Jonas 1991:2627), and set up a competitive infrastructure for socioeconomic grow th. “Thus he undertook three major construction projects: a government-run hydro elec tric plant, which would provide cheaper and better service than the electric company or (EEG); a highway to the Atlantic to compete with the Central Ameri can Rail or (IRCA’s) expensiv e monopoly on transport; and a new Atlantic port, Santo Tomas, to compete with UFCo’s Puer to Barrios” (Jonas 1991:26). However, Arbenz’s new policy objectives presented political and economic problems for the United States. He was unwilling to comply w ith U.S. foreign policy and he confiscated 26,000 acres of land, which decreased the profits of the UFCo (ibid). This action created signifi cant discontent between the peasantry and the Finqueros, (Jonas 1991:27-30), and political violence ensued Within a two-year period, the political violence between the peasants and the Finque ros became a matter of class distinction. According to Jonas (1991),“Politically, the ag rarian reform polarized the entire country into supporters and opponents of the revolution as a whole” (ibid) Land was dist ributed to the peasants, a total of some 223 acre s in all. In return, these pe asants would pay the Guatemalan government at a variable rate of 3% to 5% of their annual producti on (Jonas 1991: 27). His regime also aided about 100,000 peasants gain acce ss to land, credit, a nd technical assistance (Jonas 1991: 26-34). Later, the peasants’ economic and politi cal status as land-owners was eliminated under the regime of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, and the land was redistributed to the Finqueros. This re versal of rules resulted in internal conflict, vi olence, and oppression. Foreign intervention from the U.S. took action to replace Gu atemala’s political regime of Arbenz.


21 Foreign Policy and Military Coup Arbenz purchased firearms from Czechoslovakia, which was a real scare for the United States under the governme nt of Dwight Eisenhower and Secr etary of State John Foster Dulles. The reason for this scare is because communism had been spreading across Western Europe as it was in the Middle East (Ohaegbulam 1999: 319). Other political issues included the fact that Arbenz failed to succumb to U.S. foreign policies, in pa rticular cooperating with the United States to co ntain communism. As a result, the U. S. viewed him as a proponent of communism. The U.S. wanted Arbenz out of power and drew up a plan to replace him. President Eisenhower and U.S. Se cretary of State John Foster Dulles sough t his replacement, electing for his overthrow and s upport of Colonel Carlos Castil lo Armas (Jonas 1991: 26-34). Their plans began as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) planes bombed the capital of Guatemala in an effort to fo rce out Arbenz. This bombing in stilled fear in his own armed forces ultimately causing them not to defend his regime any longer, resul ting in his resignation from government on June 27, 1954 (Jonas 1991: 28-30). Terrorism. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas became Presiden t of Guatemala on July 8, 1954 (Jonas 1991: 29-30; Vanden and Prevost 200 2: 276). He reversed most al l the policies that had been put in place for the masses of Guatemala durin g the revolution and regimes of Juan Jos Avvalo and Jacobo Arbenz. His election was fraudulent, un -democratic and annulled in 1957 (Jonas 1991: 59). Armas revok ed the peasants’ ri ghts, status and be nefits granted under Arvalo and Arbenz. Within the first two mont hs of his regime he murdered an estimated 8,000 peasants (Jonas 1991: 41). Moreover, Jonas (199 1) reports he revok ed all social and


22 economic legislation retu rning lands back to the American UFCo (J onas 1991: 41-42). He also censored the press and intr oduced penalties for insulting the president (ibid). Armas allowed 90% of the banks to be monopolized by the large cr op growers. The new cry was communism. “The Preventive Law against comm unism legislated the death penalty for a broad range of ‘crimes’. The ‘c ommunist’ label was used agai nst thousands of non-communist organizers and Indian village leaders and the enti re operation was carried out with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles at the helm” (ibid). In 1967, only 22,000 peasant families had rece ived land (less than 0.5 million acres total); whereas, 100,000 peasan t families had received thre e times as much under Jacobo Arbenz (Jonas 1991: 45-46). Arma s was an incompetent leader a nd the U.S. had to contribute to running the Guatemalan government for a few years; costing the U.S. large sums of money in the form of $80-90 million U.S.D. (Jonas 1991: 57-59). Guatemala, like El Salvador, and Honduras was now witnessing a ne w form of dictatorship with brutal acts carried out by military dictators. These types of dictators made an already underdeveloped country from earlier centuries even more und erdeveloped and the socioecono mic conditions for Indians and peasants only worse. Economic Conditions Economic conditions worsened overall for the masses within Guatemala. The conduct of the Armas government was sloppy and precar ious, as the state c ontributed to its own impoverishment through its own taxation. The masses, includi ng the Finqueros, had to find new activities to get involved in and form new social gr oups (Jonas 1991:43). The political conflict and outrage of the masses only grew stronger be cause of many conditions including


23 the mass murders of innocent, defenseless civi lians, poor economic cond itions, dictatorship, excessive Central American tax st ructure, and formation of soci al groups. Jonas (1991, 58-59) reported that “According to figures from the U.S. AID and the IMF, as of the late 1960’s, total central government revenue wa s only 7.9% of gross national product (GNP) and tax revenue was 7.1%, the lowest in Central America; direct taxes were 10.8 percent of total revenue, also the lowest in Central America”. These socioeconomic conditions combined with the violence created the foundation for greater internal violence and ultimately transnational migration of the masses. The violence worsened before people could leave the country. Table 1. Gini Index, Guatemala 1984-2004 indicates that the soci oeconomic conditions in this country still has not improved as evidenced by 2004 and 2007 figures of ec onomic inequality based on the Gini Index5. Therefore, many Guatemalans continued to believ e that migration to Mexico or the U.S. was the answer for a better life. As Jonas (1991: 183) e xplained, such migration was expected to only grow in the future. Table 1. Gini Index: Guatemala 1984-2004 Economic Inequality Score Popul ation Pop Below Poverty Line 55.1 12, 728,111 (July 2007 est.) 56.2% (2004 est.) Source: (The World Fact Book Fo r Guatemala, Central Intellig ence Agency, Marc h 6, 2008). Thus, these economic indicato rs were tough in th e past for the av erage peasant and apparently, they are not mu ch better today according to the facts set out in The World Fact 5 Economics, Business, and the Environment — Income Equality: Gini Index Units: Index, 0-100, higher numbers indicate greater in equality; Availabl e April 5, 2008 at http://earthtrends.wri .org/text/economics-busi ness/variable-353.html


24 Book for Guatemala and those who st ill reside there. More than half its population are currently living below the poverty line and family income is very unequally distributed today as it was in the early 1960s and later 1970s, a time when the death squads and controlled elections were in full swing. Death Squads and Controll ed Elections: The 1960s. The indigenous population really had no say in po litics at this point, as elections were controlled by military dictatorship. Elections we nt from what appeared to be open and honest under the government of Julio Mo ntenegro of the Partido Revo lucionario (PR) 1966-1970, to the dishonest fascist Movimento de Liberacin Naci onal or (MLN) (Jon as 1991: 60-61). Jonas (1991) reports that in pa rticular, the MLN is commonly know n as the party of organized violence. Organized violence was exactly what the MLN was all about. A major component of the counterrevolutionary polit ics was the replacement of democratic legality by terror. The MLN used fear-inducing tactics and the victims were the innocent and defenseless civilians targeted by these terror ists. The ring-leader of the violence was Mari o Sandoval Alarcn, who is historically known as the Godfather of the deat h squads (Jonas 1991: 62). Tactics and Targets of Death Squads. Lead by Mario Sandoval Alarc n, the groups who made up th ese squads consisted of off duty security forces based in the army or police forces. They had the cruelest tactics known to mankind committing the most immoral acts on civilians, typical of terrorists. First, they instilled fear in the masse s by publishing death lists. Ne xt, they would round people up once the death lists had been published a nd the mass kidnappings began. After they kidnapped their targets, civilians, they tort ured them, raped women, even Miss Guatemala herself had been raped by these right wing forces and tortured before bei ng killed. University


25 professors and students were tortured and killed as well as the politi cal leaders between 19601970. The worst killings of all were the local workers who were primarily peasants. About 8,000 people had been murdered in the 4 y ears between 1966 and 1970, while Guatemala was governed by Julio Csar Mndez Montenegro (J onas 1991:61-63). All this terror on the civilian population took place simply because th e moderate leftist oppo sition forces within Guatemala wanted reform and change. Simply put, if one voiced oppo sition in Guatemala, one was quickly silenced by memb ers of the death squads. In some cases, the person just disappeared. The outlook in Guatemala was not good for those who opposed the military dictatorship. Living stan dards and conditions along with civil war were so bad in Guatemala that 200,000 Guatemalans lost th eir lives from 1954 to 1996. In addition to the lost lives in Guatemala due to civil war, an estimated 200,000 plus pe ople lost thei r lives in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua in th e 1980 upheavals, totaling an es timated loss of life of over 500,000 civilians (Jonas 1 991: 214-215). Human Rights: 1970s-1980s. The influence of President Jimmy Carter on Guatemala during his Presidency 19761980 had a significant impa ct on the government in Guatemal a at this time. During the mid 1970s the Congress of the United States began to connect U.S. foreign aid to human rights. Never before, and not really since, has a U.S. President implemented these provisions of foreign assistance laws, nor has any U.S. President worked as hard as Jimmy Carter to place emphasis on them. Guatemala at the time was th e worst human rights vi olator, so obviously the government at the time under Kjell Euge nio Laugerud Garca, 1974-1978, despised President Carter and the United States fo r such implementation given the Laugerud


26 government was by no means in compliance wi th the new law and it s implementation under Carter. Thus, the Laugerud gove rnment chose to purchase its ar ms elsewhere. Under this terrible regime in Guatemala, President Ca rter had earned a new name by those in the Guatemalan army “Jimmy Castro” they s houted to the world (J onas 1991: 195). Although President Carter wo rked very hard and sincerel y to enforce and implement the laws on human rights, the same statement could not be made for his successor, President Reagan. President Reagan, the 40th President of the United States and his Admini stration were less concerned with human rights in Guatemala. Reagan and his advisers worked very hard to work around the human rights laws, previously implemented by the Carter Administration, and developed very close ties with the ultra-righ t military and civilian forces associated with the death squads. The Reagan Administration accepted donations from the MLN forces and even allowed Mario Sandoval Alarcn of Guat emala who worked closely with Roberto D’Aubuisson of El Salvador, the leader of the death squads in El Salvador, to attend Reagan’s inauguration (Jonas 1991: 198). Reagan and his advisers referred to the MLN as the “responsible right.” The only motivation the so -called “responsible right,” often seen as nothing more than terrorists, had in this deal, was the promise of U.S. military aid and training (Jonas 1991: 195-199). The Reagan Administration knew that renewi ng the military assistance and aid into Guatemala would not be easy. Furthermore, the United States even approved of the March 1982 military coup (Jonas 1991: 199). The Ros Montt regime had long connections to the U.S. counterinsurgency with Reag an. The Assistant Secretary of State, Thomas Enders tried to convince the American and Guatemalan pub lic that Ros Montt wa s improving the human rights and living conditions, wh en in fact he was making them worse. Moreover, Reagan


27 himself even stated Ros Montt was doing a good job (J onas 1991: 199). The United Nations and politic al historians would soon ad vise that Ros Montt did anything but a good job. Later, the United Nations in Dece mber 1982, under a resolution revealed that the Ros Montt regime, had in no way improved th e human rights conditions in Guatemala. The resolution condemned him for a major wave of human rights violations. Only the United States and its allies condemned the U.N. reso lution, while the rest of the world applauded it (Jonas 1991: 198-199). As Susanne Jonas (1991) stated “ Following two decades of upheaval and resistance before the Sa ndinista triumph in 197 9, the struggles of the 1980s have seen advances and se tbacks. But above all, these revolutionary processes have permanently transformed the region and its people, and th ey can be expected to continue into the future, albeit in new forms a nd on new terms” (J onas 1991: 214-215). Migration due to Poverty With poor socioeconomic conditions, mass killings, terror, c onflict and ongoing political violence betwee n the right and the left, the masses began to th ink of life elsewhere. They began to think of migrati ng out of the troubled conflict ridden areas. They feared continued terror and the fact that the conditions of poverty wo uld continue for each other as adults in the family se tting and for their children. They dreamed of a government that was not a dictatorship, rather a str ong economy with reasonable pa y for work performed, and a promising future for their children that was fr ee from terror. Guatemalans began to think of migrating to various different locations within Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and even the United Sates. Some 1 to 1.2 million people had been displace d as a direct result of war in the 1980s.


28 Approximately 200,000 Guatemalans emigrated into Mexico. However, in 1990, 26,000 people (13%) re turned from Mexico to Guatemala. An additional 100,000 Guatemalans went to the Southern Coast of Guat emala, another 150, 000 people went to Guatemala City, and 750,000 people migrated into the highlands of Guatemala. The migration of Guatemalans continued be yond the early 1980’s; they carried on well into the mid 1980’s with many Guatemalans never retu rning. New waves of emigration had occurred thereafter to Mexico and the United States. The three key states and points of entry of these Guatemalan families included (California, Texas and Florida) via Mexico according to the Washington Office on Latin Am erica [WOLA] (as cite d in Jonas 1991: 182183). Figure 1 illu strates the distribu tion of these Guatem alan migrants.


29 Figure 1. Populat ion Migration 0 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 500,000 600,000 700,000 800,000LocationsNumber of Migrants Highlands Mexico Southern Coast Guatemala City United States Source: (Jonas 1991: 182-183), Fi gure: Tristam W. Lynch 2008. Moreover, the capital of the Republic of Gu atemala realized increased migration due to the war within the country, the 1976 earthq uake, and poor socioecono mic conditions that spread throughout. Eco nomic issues in other parts of the country caused the capital’s population to double betw een 1976 and 1987, which created urban poverty due to too much demand and not enough resources (ibid). Thus, the government of Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garca was partially responsible for much of the unsuccessful economic climate, while his successor Fernando Romeo Lucas Garca 1 978-1982 was not much better. Poverty in Guatemala had become widespread. It was in th is context that the modern Central American


30 gang began to develop based on the violent poli tical climate and economic conditions that the Guatemalan family had been exposed to in Guat emala, forcing migrati on and displacement of families into other countries as noted in Figure 1. Population Migration. In 1985, 200,000 Guatemalans left Guatemala and traveled to th e U.S. mainly by land, plane or boat and the process of legal immigration. In 1990, 200,000 Gu atemalans immigrated lawfully to Mexico, traveling by land travel – bus, train or car, due to its close proximity. However, the 750,000 Guatemalans that went into the highlands tr aveled also by land us ing obvious forms of transportation or walked. These same socioeco nomic and political cond itions were no better for the Salvadorans. In El Salvador, life for the peasants was equally as harsh and the military dictatorship was just as bad. El Salvador El Salvador had establishe d its modern Constitution in 1886. The Constitution had established suffrage for those unable to read and write and granted citizenship, albeit second – class, to women. Howe ver, this was a giant leap for the masses because the Spaniards had attempted settlement in 1522, ruining social a nd political systems of the military democracy that had been arranged by the local trib es who had ownership over its land (Montgomery 1994: 20-26). Like Guatemala, El Salvador’s civil war resulted in the loss of more than 200,000 people. El Salvador endured se rious confrontations and revolu tion, which can be traced back as far as its roots to the 1600s. The conditions that le d to a major peasant revolt in 1832 in the city of Los Nonualcos are deeply rooted in the depression within El Salvador dating back to 1610 due to poor demand and decline of cacao and the development of haciendas. The


31 hacienda represented capitalist enterprises ope rating with limited capit al and untold numbers of non-specialized workers who cu ltivated the product, in this case the p easants and Indian population for large land -owners producing the products de stined for foreign markets. The question was “what crop s hould replace cacao?” The answer was indigo, a blue type dye which was not as labor ious to produce and maintain as cacao had been. However, even the production of indigo and the lands on which it was grown, were concentrated into these haciendas. This produc ed serious economic problems, namely poverty. To make matters worse, the government imposed collec tion of taxes on indigo, causing major tension on top of tribute collection, which was abolished by Spain’ s Parliament in 1811. It was a priest who informed the Indians in 1814 of such abolishment, which further caused revolt. Thus in 1832 Anastacio Aquino le d 3,000 peasants to ba ttle the government for one year but, he was captured, beheaded, as a warning to the peasantry to never try such an overthrow again. One hundred years later, they did (Montgomery 1994 : 25-29). The oligarchy had maintained a monopoly over politi cal power and they used their power to control and maintain a hold over the economy as well. In other words, they, like the military, abused power. These oligarchic families worked closely with the military to maintain power (Taylor and Vanden 1982: 110-111). The masses were left without needed land and employment. Wealth and other necessities of surviv al were now concentrated in the hands of the elite, thus class distinctions became easily rec ognizable (Taylor and Vanden 1982: 110). The authors further report that in 1932 one hundred years after the peas ant revolt of 1832, ar ound 60,000 Indians, peasants and workers had risen up against the then dictatorship of Maximiliano Hernndez Martnez. The revolutionaries had been le d by Faribundo Mart and members of the


32 Communist Party in El Salvador but their attempts at revolu tion would be devastating. The Massacre. The massacre, or La Matanza, resulted mainly because those who made up this small group of revolutionaries led by Faribundo Mart simp ly advocated change. The problem according to Taylor and Vanden (1982: 110-111) wa s that they had no outside source to help them with their cause to overthrow the dictator ship of Maximiliano He rnndez Martnez. The resulting attempts fail ed, and some 30,000 men, women, and ch ildren were murdered, making the point that El Salvador’s rulers would never have to deal with such an uprising again. It should be noted that most all of the dead were in nocent, defenseless pe ople, many of them indigenous. Thus, one begins to see the similarities between the conditions in El Salvador and Guatemala. One also sees that like Guatemala, fear and terror was instilled in the masses at a very early stage in their histor y and the conditions at reform attempts by these revolutionaries in El Salvador led by indivi duals like Anastacio Aquino an d Faribundo Mart were very similar between 1832 and 1932. It would be unfair to argue th at these types of conflicts that existed in these countries were simply civil conflict, because the targ ets were civilians. In these cases, innocent indigenous pe ople that had no defenses exce pt for their voice for change against dictators who had every weapon at their disposal to re pel such change. Moreover, those who had been targeted for death were highly selected. Confrontation between the masses and the government in this country had ample historic precedent. Confrontation and Migration. Confrontation between the ma sses and the military cost 75,000 lives in the years 19751992, which sent 500,000 Salvadorans to exile in the United States as discussed by Montgomery (1994) and further reported by Vanden and Prevost (2002: 238). Like


33 Guatemala, El Salvador was no st ranger to political conflict, and later terrorism. Of the main actors mentioned, the key actors in El Salvador that stimulated revolutions were the coffee oligarchy, the military leaders, the peasantry and particular ac tors from Guatemala and El Salvador around the la te 1970’s. These incl uded Mario Sandoval Al arcn, leader of the MLN, Jos Napolean Duarte-ear ly 1980’s and Julio Adolfo Re y Prendes, San Salvador’s mayor, Archbishop Romero of the Catholic Church, and Roberto D’Aubuisson. Roberto D’Aubuisson was known as Major Bl ow Torch, leader of the death squads in El Salvador that were formed with assistance from Mario Sandova l Alarcn out of Guatemala. Some of these actors and their actions also stimulated a res ponse from the United States government due to human rights violations. The Late 1970’s -1980’s The Carter Administration was a beacon in the world for human ri ghts. Therefore, President Carter and his staff were appalled by the political violence that continued in El Salvador, particularly under the Romero regime between th e years of 1977 1979. In the Plaza Libertad for instance, violence had been the cornerstone for two a nd a half years. El Salvador suffered major violen ce between July 1, 1977, and October 15, 1979, in the form of mass demonstrations and protes ts, government repression, left wing kidnappings, occupations of public buildings, labor stri kes, disappearances, and deat h squads (Mon tgomery 1994: 7273). Once again, it is important to st ress that this political violence ends up in the form of terror rather than civil conflict as it stems out of protests brought about by the masses /revolutionaries, simple peasants and Indians th at push the government elite for change. Civil


34 conflict does not involv e particular targets within the ci vilian population by the government, death lists, death squads, disa ppearances, and major human right s violations; but, political terrorism does. Therefore, this dreadful history of violence and terror existed in El Salvador creating fear for the Salvadoran family and th eir offspring for centur ies stemming from Spain, and lived on in the mindset of the Salvadoran children after they left the country and traveled abroad. Economic Conditions. Like Guatemala, El Salvador was no stranger to poverty or to milit ary dictatorship and its’ squandering of political power and wealth. Table 2. Di stribution of Monthly Family Income in El Salvador, 1976-19 77 illustrates how difficult th e socioeconomic conditions and vast differences in incomes were in El Salvador for the Salvadoran families during the years 1976-1977. One can infer from the da ta provided in Tabl e 2. that the percent of families with income less than $40 per month, w ith an average of $27 per month, was 2.3% of all families, and comprised 12.4% of the total in come of the entire population in El Salvador (1976-1977). In contrast, 28.3% of all Salvadoran families had an inco me of >$400 /month, with an average income of $649 per month, comprising only 6.2% of the to tal income in El Salvador, 19761977. Of the income categories, the largest percent of families (25.8%) was in the income category of $120-$240 per month and an average monthly in come of $163.00. This Table displays the extent and range of poverty of the Salvador an population based on 1976-1977 income and population data, the average mont hly income for the total population being $143/month.


35 Table 2. Distribution of Monthly Family Income in El Salvador, 1976-1977 Income Categories in US Dollars Number of Families per Income Category Percent of Total Families per Income Category Total Income (# of families x Category group dollars) Percent of Total Income Average Income Per Family in Dollars <$40 $40-$80 $80-$120 $120-$240 $240-$400 >$400 Total 97,046 288,711 164,263 176,805 64,229 48,711 779,765 2.3% 12.0% 14.4% 25.8% 17.2% 28.3% 100.0% $2,621,402 $13,431,278 $16,086,080 $28,762,948 $19,174,067 $31,599,999 $111,675,744 12.4% 29.4% 21.1% 22.7% 8.2% 6.2% 100.0% $27 $59 $98 $163 $299 $649 $143 Source: Ministry of Planning, “Distribution del ingreso y gasto por deciles de hogares, 1976-77” [Distribution of income and expenditures by deciles of households], January 1980, tables 1-4 cited in (Montgomery 1994: 73). Between 1979-1982, El Salvador’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined while its budget deficit increase d. For instance, (GDP) for 1979 was $138.4 million, in 1981 it was $123.2 and in 1982 it was $111.6 million dollars. The deficit on the ot her hand in 1979 was $43.6 million, in 1981, $204.8 million, and in 1982, $770.4 million dollars. Such poor ongoing economic indicators combined with the lo ss of land and deaths of peasant farmers (campesinos) some 5,000 plus in 1981 forced ma ny Salvadorans to migrate to the United States. Many peasants and indeed many from the oligarch y took up residence in Miami, Florida U.S.A. (Montgomery 1994: 142-143). Thus, t houghts of migration grew stronger not only due to these poor socioecono mic conditions, but also due to the harsh realities of the military regimes under which they lived. As Mont gomery (1994) reported, El Salvador was so


36 desperate by the early 1980’s, that it would ha ve totally collapsed ha d it not been for the United States economic assistance. Such situations we re very similar in Guatemala, where the U.S. essentially ran its government for a time after the incompetent Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas regime (Jonas 1991: 57-58). Like Guatemala, its land had been squandered by the government, which led to poverty. Land was poorly dist ributed and the law, Decree #207, was po orly drawn. The University of Wisconsin Land Te nure Center analyzed the prob lems with the decree. They found the major flaw to be a top down land reform proce ss whereby much of the land was controlled by the government with little or no participation by th e peasants. This finding led to the creation of The National Financial Ins titution for Agricultural Lands (FINATA). The purpose of FINATA was to proces s applications for land titles FINATA had been busy, for there were over 150,000 new landow ners. Thus, in 1981, a Stat e Department o fficial noted that 6,000 pre-applications were filed by claimants and only a total of 345 provisional titles were granted (Mont gomery 1994: 138-139). Political Violence. The economic conditions and political violence only got worse in El Sa lvador after 1977 when in 1979 Roberto D’Aubuis son and his business colleague s met with the dictator of Guatemala in Guatemala City, Mario Sandoval Alarcn founder of Na tionalist Liberation Movement (MLN). The purpose of the meeting was the fact that Roberto D’ Aubuisson and his agents wanted Mari o Sandoval Alarcn to assist them a nd supply them with the formation of a paramilitary unde rground and arms with intent to seize control of the Salvadoran government, another typical act of political violence (Montgomery 1994:132). Mario Sandoval Alarcn supplied advice, ra ised money with right wing Miami exiles


37 for the political activities of Roberto D’Aubuisson’s cabal. He also helped to smuggle weapons into El Sa lvador supplying pilots to do the job and hit men to counte r attack anybody interfering with the operation. Furthermore, Montgomery (1994) reports Salvadoran exiles living in Miami backed up the operation to aid in destroying the reformist government to the tune of millions of dollars by financing death squads and terrorizing those affiliated with the reformist government (Montgomer y 1994:132). The di rection of the deat h squads and their targets were orchestrated by the agent Roberto D’ Aubuisson. The terr or continued and members of the Catholic Church were not immune to all the vi olence, especially Archbishop Romero. The death squads were ope rating out of Guatemala wi th Salvadoran Roberto D’Aubuisson at the helm. Thes e particular death s quads were interested more so in the killings of what they deemed to be quality killings. Unlike m odern terrorists and gangs that exist in El Salvador to date, these squads went after famed faces and so they killed by quality not quantity (Montgomery 1994:13 3-134). Archbishop Romero a nd the Christian Democratic Party were familiar faces with very loud voices of opposi tion. After spending time in Guatemala, Roberto D’Aubuisson a nd agents returned to El Sa lvador with intentions to defend their land from what they deemed to be communism. Under the nickname of Major Blow Torch, he and his assassin s killed Mario Zamora, a leader of the Christian Democratic Party and standout public figure by shooting him in the head ten times in his own home. Next, they went after Archbishop Romero. According to Montgomery (199 4:133), the first attempt on the Archbishop’s life failed when he noted a briefcase afte r his 5:00pm mass in honor of Mari o Zamora. Fort unately, the briefcase was removed. The chur ch personnel discovere d that it contained seventy-two sticks


38 of dynamite with a timer set for 5:00, withou t indicating morning or evening. Roberto D’Aubuisson warned the Archbis hop to change his ways and wo rk with the st ructure of his government, but Archbishop Romero declined. Two weeks after the fi rst attempt on his life had failed, the second at tempt succeeded. The only precautionary method the priest used to avoid further attempts on his life after the first one was to change places of were he slept at night. Obviously, Arch bishop Romero was very stubborn, resisted changing his ways, and refused to let terrorists led by Roberto D’Aubuisson intimidate hi m. In the end, the price for being stubborn cost him his life. Even the former U.S. Ambassa dor Robert E. White believed that Roberto D’Aubuisson ordere d this assassinati on as explicated by Taylor and Vanden (1982: 115). All this violence against such public figures in El Salvador was from the right wing death squads and was thei r leaders’ way of usurping pow er. They intimidated the masses using the label of communism as th eir only excuse for these atrocities. Jos Napolean Duarte, member of the Chri stian Democratic Party and mayor of San Salvador the capit al of El Salvador, had r un for president first in 1972 only to be defrauded in his election, beaten, to rtured, and exiled for seven years. He returned and became president in 1979, in a newly formed junta. The only problem was that he failed to control the growing opposition forces, and the result led to the sec ond Matanza. Since that time, 1979, killings increased for those who advocated for reform a nd spoke out, with Archbishop Romero being a classic example (Montgomer y 1994: 136-139; Taylor and Vanden 1982: 111-113). The violence was so severe that some 8,000 civilians had been killed by 1980, among which 6,000 were murdered by Salvadoran government forces (ibid). Human Rights. President Jimmy Carter made it quiet clear that protection of hum an rights would be a


39 major criterion as to whether or not a govern ment would receive military assistance and funding from the United States (Montgomery 1994: 72). Given the massive human rights violations on some 8,000 civilians and given his dissatisfaction with the Duarte government for human rights violations, Archbishop Romero asked the United States to stop military assistance and funding for El Salvador (Taylor and Vand en 1982:112-113). Archbishop Romero spoke out too much ag ainst the opposition fo rces and touted hi s concerns about human rights violations involving the peasantry, which led to his assass ination in 1980. Thus, the political violence, terroris t tactics and connecti ons between these two Central American countries were very similar. The Indian population a nd peasant workers felt the brunt of the repression and economic deprivatio n. As a result, they began to consider migration as an option. Because of the close pr oximity of El Salva dor to the United St ates, migration was feasible by land, air or sea. The socioeconomic conditions and political circ umstances in Honduras were also similar to those of El Salvador a nd Guatemala. Honduras Honduras as of the late 1970’s and earl y 1980’s was by no means at all as revolutionary as was Guatemala and El Salvador. It did howev er, suffer some revolts but not to the same extent. Honduras was very dependent on Spain in its colonial past and then the United States in terms of capital and foreign po licy, and currently still is very much reliant on the U.S., its main trading part ner (World Fact Book, March 6, 2008). Thus the country has long been understood to be orie nted toward dependency especially on the U.S. In terms of its political history, Hondu ras had been defined by the American owned fruit companies who held the majority of its productive lands since the 19th century, causing dependence on its


40 banana industry (Latin America Bureau: 1985 as cited in Schmalzbauer 2005: 8). Both the American owned Standard Fruit a nd the United Fruit companies c ontrolled all of the best of land to the extent of 75% of much of Honduras’ lands in the northern territor y (ibid). Of note, the civil wars in each Central American count ry differed and the dictatorships were very similar in Guatemala and El Salvador as evidenced by the history in this chapter, but this was not the same situation in Honduras. Government Actions: Reformism. The structure of the Honduran government was liberal, wh ich to some extent had benefited the country in terms of land reforms in conjunction with the fact that the American fruit companies held much of that land. At a time when military dictatorship was strong in Central America, partic ularly in Guatemala and El Salva dor, the Honduran li beral government could pass agrarian land reform s with ease with the help of a strong anti-communist peasant reformist movement. Those reforms took pl ace in 1962, 1972 and 1975 (Euraque 1996: as cited in Schmalzbauer 2005: 9). The 1980s. Because Honduras is famously known for its production of bananas, it had been called the quintessential banana republi c. When President Ronald Re agan took the White House, Honduras suddenly became known as a pentagon re public. Some say, namely Schmalzbauer (2005), it seemed to have become an occupied country for the U.S. m ilitary, which essentially had large numbers of military in it during th e 1980s (Schmalzbauer 2005: 10). All this was done under the Reagan Administra tion so as to launch the Nica raguan Contra War. Thus, one would assume then, with all the aid and friendship of the United States at this moment in its history, 1981, that Hondur as could prosper especially with th e U.S. influences and assistance


41 from the U.S. fruit companies. On the contra ry, such an assumption is not entirely true. The Honduran National Security Doctrine. The Honduran National S ecurity Doctrine was an anti-c ommunist platform carried out by then President Cordovo. His Colonel Alva rez and the U.S. amba ssador John Negroponte6 headed up the U.S. forces associated with the Contra War. They used whatever means necessary to enforce this doc trine. Those means included repression and human rights violations, disappearances, tortur es, judicial killings, all of which target ed primarily political organizations. This approach expanded from a micro-level to a macro-level, targeting all of the Honduran society. It was this fear, this hi storical moment, violence, poverty, and on going killings that caused the first wa ve of Honduran migrants to th e United States (Schmalzbauer 2005: 10). Political Movements. Honduras had not experienced th e same breadth of civil war and conflict as Guatemala and El Salvador. Yet, Honduras did rely heavily on foreign in fluences, as did Guatemala and El Salvador. Much of its society was underdev eloped and poor. Land was always important in Honduras for the purposes of producing ba nanas and raising beef (R ivas 1989: 5-6). These economic products helped Honduras enter into the global capital ist society and its benefits, such as free market capitalism. After World War II, power had alternated and wavered in conj unction with fifteen years of economic stagnation. So cial movements rose from the ground to counter much of the authoritarian politics along with the rise of popular national-reformist movements (Rivas 6 John Negroponte currently serves as the United States De puty Secretary of State Appointed by President George W. Bush as of 2004-2008.


42 1993:66). Movement activists ty pically push for social change, but not so much for reform. They desire only to be recogni zed within the polity and they usually look for the overthrow of a particular social or der (Tarrow 2006:161). In Honduras, just like in Guatemala and El Salvador, ma ny of the indigenous people formed social movements for the purpose of in clusion in the polity with special emphasis placed on the need for land in order to grow crops and raise beef. With land and the production of these products the indigenous could have a voice in governme nt, create policy and become wealthy. Without the land, they really had nothing and so agrarian reform was usually met with repression as has been evidence d with the roll backs of the peasants gains especially in Guatemala and El Salvador, and even in Hondur as with the peasants demands over the land associated with growing cotton. To be sure, land distributi on for the purpose of coffee production in Honduras was irrele vant. The real primary produc ts of producti on in Honduras became cotton, beef and bananas. Historic ally, Honduras’ land was not as arable for producing coffee as were the lands of Guatemal a and El Salvador. Th us, with such stiff competition and mass production of coffee in Guatemala and El Sa lvador, it is easy to see why they, the campesinos and farm laborers used land distributed to them for alternative economical products, namely beef cotton, and bananas. Table 3. Mean Production of Coffee (1,000 Pounds) in H onduras, Guatemala and El Salvador ill ustrates why the campesinos used their land for other agri cultural products rath er than focusing on coffee production.


43 Table 3. Mean Production of Coffee (1,000 Pounds) in Honduras, Guatem ala and El Salvador 1909-1943 Years Honduras’/Average Guatemala’ s/AverageEl Salvador’s/Average 1939-1943 1934-1938 1929-1933 3,704 3,616 3,351 99,605 104,191 96,431 116,228 119,403 112,833 1924-1928 1919-1923 1914-1918 1909-1913 2,998 1,102 1,102 1,102 103,441 95,637 84,658 86,642 97,353 83,820 75,178 64,596 Source: The Worlds’ Coffee. Export s in the fiscal year ending July 31, as cited in (Rivas 1993: 137). Consistently throughout its history and even in the pr esent day, Honduras was, and remains, no match for producing co ffee with its land compared to the other Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salv ador and even Costa Rica. Thus these farmers t oday, as in the past, in Honduras need each other in order to produce the goods that matter, bananas, beef and cotton for their economy over all and their own poten tial to make a living for their families. But, poverty among the families was, and continues to be a problem. Table 4. Gini Index, Population and Population below Poverty Line in Honduras shows how poor these Honduran families currently are, with 50.7% of its popu lation living below the poverty line in 2004. Table 4. Gini Index, Popula tion and Population Below P overty Line In Honduras Economic Inequality Score Popul ation Pop Below Poverty Line 53.8 7,483,763 (2007 est) 50.7% (2004 est) Source: (The World Fact Book for Honduras, Central Intelligence Agenc y, March 6, 2008). These farmers needed to work with each other in the form of movements, social movements, because they could not achieve much alone. However, thei r movements have not


44 been successful and their ability to mobilize and influence the gove rnment is miniscule at best. They were struggling economica lly, and migrating seemed a so lution to their problems. Honduras’ economy suffered majo r inequalities as did Guat emala’s and El Salvador’s, especially for Honduras with such a small popula tion in a country not mu ch bigger than the state of Tennessee. Political Violence. The campesinos’ social move ments within Honduras relied heavily on mutual acquaintances to acquire land, a process known as using social ca pital (Bourdieu 1985: 248 as cited in Portes 1998: 3). Although it is important to note that there are a variety of definitions of social capital, bridging versus bonding for instance, bonding, the ty pe of social capital referred to with th is movement, required lo yalty. Bonding social capital requires strong ingroup loyalty, but it also mi ght create strong out-group antagonism (Putnam 2000: 23). Putnam advises that with this ty pe of social capital, negative external effects are usually more common than positive ones. The problem with these movements was that they also relied heavily on mass mobilization of th e people. Often it was difficult for social groups to gather support needed to bring about social change. The loyalty of one hundred campesinos working together in Honduras co uld hardly be as effective as one million, such as the O Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem-Te rra, the Landless Workers Moveme nt in Brazil as reported by the authors Wright and Wolfor d (2003). In Honduras, like Guatemala and El Salvador, the governments that emerged after the economic crisis of the 1930’s had been replaced by middle-class leaders and politic al groups headed by popular movements li ke the campesinos movement (Rivas 1993: 69). According to Rivas (1989: 77), this campesino movement was grounded in violent


45 actions and land seizures marki ng the difference between this c ountry and El Salvador with respect to landownership. The landowner had to live in an insecure environment, not the members of the social movement. Attempts had been made at stabilizi ng the situa tion in 1972 under the civilian governme nt of Ramn Cruz only to be ove rthrown by a military coup lead by Oswaldo Lpez Arellano (Rivas 1989: 77). The military was able to reform briefly and lost credibility thereafter produci ng nothing more than an agrarian reform program. For the social movement itself to form and be successful, it needed good organize rs from pre-existing associations emerging from a struggle. Most social movements that emerged from a long tormenting interactive process of state formation had been successful (Ta rrow 2006: 200-201); but, the campesino movement, like this one in Honduras, had competition. As a result, the campesinos movement was not so successful. Outbidding and counter protes ts are often the result wh en two movements mobilize against each other, particularly were one movement’s success jeopardizes the success of the other in a context of he ightened mobilization, in this case the campes inos movement versus popular movements, and the outco me can bring about terrorist campaigns (Tarrow 2006: 88). What this means is when one movement threatens the success of another in terms of its ability to mobilize, it can bring a bout outbidding and c ounter-protesti ng. In other words, one movement’s success might be to the detriment of the other and as a resu lt, the movement that appears to be failing, counter protests using any means necessary to achieve its goal including violence. Della Porta and Tarrow (1986) refer to a cl assic example such as the right and the left feeding off each other in Italy in the 19 60s. Tarrow (2006) furt her advices “movements that employ violence invite physical repression”. Such viol ence and repression lead to harsh economic conditions. Both the le gal and bureaucratic st ructures of the H onduran government


46 went through a violent period in order to deal with the new econom y that had been emerging since the economic cr isis after 1930. Economic Conditions. The Honduran economy, particul arly the export sector, had suffered a major blow prior to the 1950 period in addi tion to foreign investment. For example, in 1929 U.S. investment in this country was $80.3 million doll ars, the highest amount of money invested in all of Central American countri es by the United States followed by Guatemala second, with $58.8 million U.S.D. (Rivas 1993: 49). The problem was the fact that the Atlantic coastal land, the banana planta tions property devalued the rest of the land in the country, which created passivity and reinforced isolation. Rivas (1993) reporte d that in 1950 for every 100 square kilometers of land, only 3.2 kilometers of highways existed (ibi d). Moreover, ever since 1929, Honduras relied heavily on foreign investments especial ly from the United States. The export sector managed to make a recove ry thereafter into the 1970s, however, it was meager. Out of all the Central American countries discussed in this researc h, the Honduran economy was the most vulnerable, mainly becau se of its dependency on foreign controlled production (Rivas 1993: 74) Therefore, the economic conditi ons worsened and the violence increased due to dictatorial ru le and a foreign controlled ec onomy. As a result, Hondurans, particularly the peasant farmers and their families, sought migra tion as a means to escape the poor socioeconomic conditi ons of poverty and violence. They saw migration to the U.S. as a feasible option for freed om and prosperity. 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Since the 1970s-1990s onward, thousands of Hondurans have, and continue, to emigrate to the U.S. because of harsh economic conditions and natural disa sters in the country,


47 specifically, hurricane Mitch, which caused tremendous deva station in 1998 to the country’s infrastructure, while displaci ng Hondurans (Schmalzbauer 2005 : 50-51). However, not all Hondurans emigrated lawfully According to Sullivan7 (2005: 5), the numbers of undocumented Hondurans that migrated to th e U.S. after Hurrican e Mitch in 1998 was approximately 82,000. These Hond urans were granted temporar y protected st atus by the United States, protecting them from deportation, because th e Honduran government would not be able to cope with the ma ssive waves of Hondurans being deported back into the small country. 7 Mark Sullivan is a specialist in Latin American Affai rs, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division.


48 CHAPTER FOUR: TRANSNATIONAL MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES Migration is the move ment of individuals in general, between cities, and states. Transnational migration involve s movement to other nations, crossing international borders and when legal, meeting the entrance eligibilit y requirements to visi t, work or become citizens. Basch, Click, Schiller and Bl anc (1994) defined transna tional migration as “the process by which immigrants fo rge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societie s of origin and settlement” (as cited in Schmalzbauer 2005: 4). Borders between countries are loosely defined and mon itored in areas such as Central America, whereas movement from national borders is regulated throu gh governmental controls. Migration into th e United States For many Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salv adorans, they chose to leave their country for entry into the U.S. because of its reputation for freedom and prosperity. Many of the families from these three specific co untries have come to popular cites in the U.S: Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Fr ancisco, Phoenix and other known cities, particularly the Boston and New York City ar eas. The top ten cities for gangs are New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Boston (Howell 1994: 498). According to the 1990 Census Bureau, the greatest number—probabl y over 100,000—settled in Los A ngeles, where the biggest concentration of Central Americans in the Unite d States resided at that time. There were


49 also significant numbers of Central Americans in Houston, Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., southern Florida, and Sa n Francisco. Smaller enclaves are found in Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix/Tucson, and ot her cities in Texas and North Carolina. These families were searching for a better life, free from poor soci oeconomic and brutal conditions associated with dict atorship and terror in their countries of origin. They were in pursuit of better economic c onditions (Jonas 1991: 182-183; Schmalzbauer 2005: 10-11). However, this migration effort resulted in legal and illegal im migration patterns; those that followed the regulatory migration requirements and those that did not. Because many of these migrants came to the U.S. illegally, most of the Central American influx was secret and illegal, and much of mainstream America was at first ignorant of its magnitude. But, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS ) kept a close eye on the situation. During the 1980s, migrants from these Central American countries settled primarily in cities with large existing Lati no communities. They clustered together to maintain the language and culture of their homeland. Their communities became a lure for their families and friends. Yet, relations with other Latino groups near whom Central Americans often lived were strained. The more established Latino and Mexican communities resented the newer residents because of rivalry for low-paying jobs. Yet, a number of Native American groups have been very supportive of indigenous Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran immigran ts to the United States and empathize with their struggle against ge nocide and cultura l oppression. According to U.S. Census (1990) and Schmalzbauer (2005), these migrants moved into impoverished communities in cities such as Tucson, Arizona for Guatemalans, Chelsea in Boston for Honduran s and Miami, Florida and San Francisco,


50 California for Salvadorans. It should be not ed that while family and friends attracted these migrants to migrate into specific cities within specific states, ethnicity and the labor markets, particularly the ag ricultural economy also played a significant role in such migration patterns (Eekhoff and Avalos 2003: 1216). Los Angeles, in California is the main city for Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants, second to Louisiana for the Hondurans. In fact, the fastes t growing states in the U.S. for Guatemalans between 1990 and 2000 according to the U.S. census we re Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. North Carolina and New Mexico had th e highest rates for Hondurans. According to Eekhof and Avalos (2003: 13) “The mid-west and southern states are attracting more and more Central Americans”. They report that Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming experienced the fast est migrant growth during 1990-2000. These researchers studied the unique migration of specific migran t groups using census data at state and national levels. They report that Hondurans migrated mostly to North Carolina, New Mexico, and Louisiana, whereas Salv adorans migrated mostly to Vermont, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Guatemalans how ever, migrated mostly to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eekhof and Avalos were able to calculate migrant group rates using these data: “Guatemalan migration grew by 1030% each year between 1990 and 2000; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Raleigh, North Carolina, are attracting greater numbers of Hondurans; Salvadorans have been going to Fayetteville, Arkansas at the rate of 737% increase per year” (2003: 13). Eekhof and Avalos (2003) also examined migration patterns in relation to the labor market. They studied news articles a nd labor patterns to ascertain if migrant patterns changed with improved employment and labor markets. Central American


51 migrants found the U.S. economy and working cond itions to be better than their countries of origin. In contrast, U.S. laborers w ould not work for these lower wages and poor conditions. So the influx of migrants into labor markets was welcomed by the agricultural businesses. However, the migratory numbers are probabl y underestimates, as the census data were not complete. Because of their illeg al and undocumented migrant status, not all migrants were tracked and entered into census databases. But, their rapid growth was challenging to the U.S. communities. They faced many challenges related to work, health and acculturation. Th ey relied on social welfare systems for their food, housing and healthcare. While they created an un-welcomed social burden during difficult economic times in these cites, these migrants relied on their friends and families to retain their cultural practices. Mi grant families and friends united for socialization and protection. The parents found em ployment as undocumented immigrants in low-paying jobs such as farms, meat fact ories, and as servants. Their children grew up in these poor condi tions, and like their parents, wanted socialization and protection. Since the children were poor, and sometimes sought unlawful means of excitement a nd money, their lives were insecure, so they went to the streets for security with their peers. Th e children were negatively influenced by unhappy home lives and witnessed their parents’ a buse, poverty, and fee lings of hopelessness (Fairfax County Virginia.Gov). These childr en as they aged, essentially wanted a different life – a life of control, power, and m oney. To achieve these desires, they turned to unlawful actions with their peer groups, cr eating strong bonds within territories. These unlawful, territorybased youth groups became known as gangs. The main reasons why


52 youth join gangs are due to broken family households, poverty and urban life (Martin 2005: 7). Thus, gangs evolved over time, mainly due to the families’ exposure to poor economic conditions, anarchy, dictatorships, uncontrolled governments, single-family households, poverty, and urban life. Maxson and Klein (1993) (cited in Howell 1994: 506), explained that 39% of gang members m ove because of family relocation versus only 20% because of an expanding drug market. Living Conditions of Migr ants in United States These migrants from Guatemala, El Salv ador, and Honduras faced multiple hardships once they arrived in the United States. However, it should be noted that they were used to extreme hardships given th e violence in their homelands as di scussed in Chapter Three. Yet, the hardships they faced in the U.S. were by no m eans as extreme. In the U.S., they faced first and foremost, a lack of proper documentation, mobility barriers in school for their children and workplace for the adults, fear of deportation back to the country of origin, lack of or poor English skills, illiteracy, povert y, segregation, and recently th e adoption and pa ssing of the United States’ Patriot Act by the current President George W. Bush and U.S. Congress (Schmalzbauer 2005: 33). These barriers made life very difficult for these migrants in the United States, so the life they expected and hoped for in the U.S. was not the life they actually experienced. The adults struggled to find empl oyment and make enough money to live, while the youth had a difficult time acculturating into U.S. cities. As a result, the youth got involved with drugs, violence, and illegal group activities, a ll associated as ga ng behaviors.


53 The parents who tried to raise these y ounger children in America struggled to keep them out of trouble, while they worked hard to send the remittances back home to the grandparents, the “other mothers”, who re mained in Central America to care for their teenage sons and daughters left behind by the parents (Schmalzbauer 2005: 30-40). While the immigrant parents worked hard to im prove life for their families, they lost control of their children who became members of street gangs in American cities, becoming known as Central American Gangs or simply Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants. However, in reality, the gang-st ructure was present also in Central America among teenage youths of the sons and daughter s left behind with their grandparents. Thus, the other sons and daughters back in Central America formed gangs and were engaged in the same unlawful and violent acts on Central American streets due to their need for socialization and protection and their struggle to escape poverty. This process of gang formation takes pl ace first through youth solidarity. In the U.S., these youth carve out their own boundaries and territories within cities and villages, developing gang communities with unique na mes. These youth gangs form, multiply, and evolve to eventually battle against each other for power, control and territory. The primary reason the youth join gangs is because they felt they had no other alternatives to escape poverty and broken homes in the U.S. urban cities (Mar tin 2005: 7; Anderson 1999: 42-45). They blamed the government for not creating alternatives for them. They have lack of respect in thei r lives and want it, so many us e drugs as a means to gain access to money to support each other financ ially and to fulfill their drug addictions, which includes: marijuana, hero in, alcohol, and other drugs.


54 A classical case of a youth group who fo rmed and carved out territory in Los Angeles, and gave themselves a name, is the notorious Mara Sa lvatrucha street gang (MS-13). These gang members were primar ily made up of Salvadoran immigrants, children of transnational migrant families that left San Salvador, El Salvador, because of dictatorial rule, mass murders, death lists and death squads. To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigators has ranked this gang as the mo st dangerous in the world. The sad part of their life is that for many of them, they may never see their family back in El Salvador again due to transnational migration or a lifetime spent in prison for their crimes. Still, these migrants dreamed of their live s back in their country of origin and hoped for future reunion. For example, one particular Honduran migrant, Doro tea, tells her story about being miles apart fro m her family she had left behind in Honduras with a dream to earn money in the U.S. to support them and unite with them someday. Dorotea Dreams of Reunion. “I hope that someday we will al l be able to be together agai n. I have always said that I believe this is the biggest obsta cle in my life, to not be with my kids… Because when I was there with them I had goa ls, I studied, and I had enthusiasm. Bu t here I have little enthusiasm. I’m always thinking about my child ren, what they are doing, that they are getting bigger, that things are happening in their li ves, and these thought s obstruct my abi lity to be happy” (Schmalzbauer 2005: 68). Obviously, Dorotea suffered from being homes ick and missed her family so much that a question was marked in her mind : Was the arduous journey to the United States worth it? Dorotea and many others like her who fled Centra l America, Guatemala and El Salvador, did not realize the peril their childr en continued to face in Centra l American countries. Many of


55 these children lacked al ternatives to escape poverty and da nger, as noted by Kemp (2007). Kemp conducted gang resear ch in El Salvador, di scovering some of the most violent youth in the world were serving time in the worst prisons in El Salvador for their crimes. Unfortunately while individuals li ke Dorotea were in the U.S. tr ying to earn m oney to send the remittances back home to support her children, she did not real ize that they were actually engaged in unlawful violent and drug-related activities, endangeri ng their own lives. The deportees of 1992 (maras) had be gun the recruitment process of these you ng children aged between 9 and 19 as inferred from Arana (2005). Therefore, all though some of these kids did unite with their families, the families had no id ea they had actually al ready been recruited by these gangs in Central America. Living Conditions of Teenagers In Central America After the migrants fled to the United States from these Central American countries, those teenagers who stayed behind were left with the damages ca used by earlier civil wars and the damage caused by the recent United States milita ry presence, especia lly in Hondur as after the military departed, particular ly after the Contra War was over The culture that persisted was extremely violent. Havi ng being exposed to years of violence, one can understand perhaps how these violent youth that threaten the political system have evolved. The teenagers that now walk the stre ets of Honduras and even Guatem ala and El Salv ador are very dangerous. As Manwaring (2005 : 13-14) specifical ly indicated, “El Sa lvador has some 39,000 current gang members and in Guatemala in 2004 they murdered more than 3,500 people of which more than 455 of those were wo men in broad daylight”. Sullivan (2005: 2) reports, that even in Honduras and its close neighbors, Guatemala an d El Salvador, it is


56 poverty, unemployment, and the leftover weapons from the 1980s that has fueled these gangs. Living conditions have b een so bad, the youth fe lt little or no other alte rnatives in their lives, so they took matters in to their own hands. As the author Schmalzbauer reports, “Drugs, a central but less publicized component of the covert wars in Central America (Scott and Marshall: 1991 as cited in Schmalzbauer 2005: 10), have become pervasiv e in Honduran cities. As has been the case in the United States and the inner citi es around the world, drug s have intensified viol ence, especially among the young. San Pedro Sula and Te gucigalpa are now two of the mo st gang-infested cities in all of the Americas”. In short, the covert wars enab led drugs to further de velop in these inner cites especially after th e United States left Honduras. Be cause of the drug act ivities se lling, distributing, and usage and left over weapons, the youth who have been exposed to years of violence have only become more vi olent, evolving into gangs and gang activ ities as reported by Sullivan (2005). Gang Types Although multiple definitions of gangs ar e found in sociological literature, the definition provided by the government of Fairfa x County coincides with that provided by Miller. Miller (1982): states that gangs ar e law violating youth groups. Specifically, Miller defines a gang as “an association of three or more youths whose members engage recurrently in illegal activities with the cooperation and /or mora l support of their companions”. Three types of gangs are noted in the literature: first, second and third generation gangs (Manwaring 2005). Miller (1982) first refe rred to these gang ty pes as turf-oriented,


57 gain-oriented and fighting-oriented gangs. The new modern Centra l American street gang is a fighting gang, having all the elements of the firs t and second-generation ga ngs. This gang is different than simple turf-orient ed and gain-oriented gangs. Each type of gang is briefly discussed. Two points of view are provided to help identi fy the first type of gang, first generation or turf-oriented gang. The firs t offered by Miller (1982) (cited in Howell 1994: 497), while the other offered by Manwaring (2005: 9-10). Mi ller refers to gangs concerned with control of neighborhoods and city bloc ks as turf-oriented gangs. They are not very sophisticated, have very loose leadership, and focus on petty ca sh. Manwaring (2005) refe rs to them as first generation gangs. Anderson (1999:11 7), another researcher, noted that they typically control the streets and their turf. Yet, when drug trafficking becomes pr ofitable, other de alers move in on their turf, violence follows and often people are hurt or killed in the process. A second type of gang is the gain-ori ented gang. The gain-oriented type ga ng tends to be more sophisticated and places emphasis on controlling their markets, in particular the drug market and businesses (Miller 1982). Manwaring refers to this gang as the second generation gang. Miller (1982) classified the third type of gang as the fighting ga ng, later called the third generation gang by Manwarin g (2005). This gang is new and has all the elements of both the first two types of gangs (M anwaring 2005: 10). This ga ng is the most dangerous, and seeks to control ungoverned territory challengi ng the role of authori ties; essentially, it challenges the role of the government and the po lice. This gang type has the potential to topple weak governments and to co ntrol cities just like those in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Examples of these t ypes of gangs are the MS-13, Marasalvatrucha, and the M18 Central American street gangs. In summary, a first generation gang cent ers its attention on


58 turf protection, suffers with loose unsophisticated leadership and focuses on petty cash. A second generation gang organizes for busine ss and commercial gains; whereas, a third generation gang has a ll the elements of the first and second generati on gangs with the clear difference being that this type of gang pushes to cont rol and in some cases take over power by way of corruption and co ercion. Manwaring (200 5: 10) asserts that th e third generation gang places itself agai nst the political will of these weak countries and enters into a battle space known as “intrastate war”. According to Kemp (2007) the members of the MS-13, a third generation gang, continue to argue that they ar e at war. They claim that th ey are at war with their local government in San Salvador and other gangs, no tably the M-18 street gang, reported by Kemp after interviewing gang pris oners at a prison in El Salvador. These types of gangs are difficult enemies to battle with because th ey are not a state or an army and often they at tack and cause harm with little if any no tice to their targets. “They inevitably begin to c ontrol ungoverned territory with in a nation-s tate and /or begin to acquire political power in poorly-governed space. This political action is intended to provide security a nd freedom of movement for gang activi ties. As a conse quence, the third generation gang and its leadersh ip challenge the legitimate st ate monopoly on the exercise of control and use of violence within a given political terr itory. The gang lead er, then, acts much the same as a warl ord or a drug baron” (Manwaring 2005: 10). Clearly, the MS-13 gang is a third generation gang, the most dangerous of the gang types. For this reason, law enforcement must make every effo rt to contain this gang and stop its global reach of crime and violence. This gang challenges the role of police and military authorities. Because of their expanding growth and violence, these third generation gangs can


59 ultimately control targeted ci ties and counties, e.g. Freder ick, Maryland, Orange County, California, San Salvador, El Salvador, Sa n Pedro Sula and Te gucigalpa, Honduras (Manwaring 2005: 12; Schmalzbauer 2005: 10-11). Current literature reports the fact that these types of gangs are already controlling such major cities an d counties by wa y of dictating to the role of authority including the authority normally carrie d out by politicians and police. The effects of such activities on governments at the local, state, and federal levels can be devastating and expensive part icularly if members of the MS-13 gang have already been deported and yet found th eir way back across Am erican borders. Emergence of Dangerous Yout h Groups/ Gangs in U.S. These Central American children and ma ny young minorities like them, particularly young African American males, emerged and beca me dangerous in the U.S. because of the lure to get involved in the sale and distribution of drugs. That lure involves the fantasy of getting rich quick. They wanted to get rich quick because they lived in conditions of poverty. Thus, they sold drugs for Amer ican drug dealers who would threaten them with the use of violence if they did not sell a specific amount of drugs, part icularly crack to their customers. Sometimes drugs would be advanced to the cust omer and always delivered by the youth, but sometimes the money for the drugs would not be paid to the dealer (Anderson 1999: 116). As a result, the dealer would take his or her violence and in most cases his violence, out on the children. This kind of violent behavior would be instilled in these childre n at very early stages in their lives and they would ta ke those violent lessons learned and experiences of abuse in U.S. society with them. Such abuses and experi ences represent their earl y developing stages of gang membership in the U.S. in the city of Lo s Angeles. Violent at tributes were quickly


60 established and many innocen t people fell victim to these violen t youth groups. The roots of these gangs first emerged in Los Angeles, California, due to the transnational families’ prior settlement in th at city. When the families took their young children out of Guatemala, El Salvador and Hond uras to avoid civil wars in their homelands. These families settled in the slums of Los A ngeles in the 1980s, so that their young children grew up in these slums integra ting with other poor Salvador an families. As the young children aged, they mixed with other young child ren and associated th emselves with other families who also migrated to Los Angeles. During the 1980’s the influx of migrants increased while the current children were aging, becoming unlawful youth groups of Salvadoran immigrants living in poverty. Riots occurred in the early 1990s, with unpre cedented looting and violence. The Los Angeles Police Department determined that th e origin of these riot s and violence were Salvadoran immigrants, the early formation of the MS-13 in the U. S. (Arana 2005: 99). The patterns of their gang violence were considered first generation according to the research of Manwaring (2005) because in th eir early stages, they were primarily concerned with only territory. In res ponse to these riots, Ca lifornia implemented new laws that targeted a crackdown on gang violence explained by Arana (2005). State prosecut ors decided it would be best to charge young gang members as adults, rather than minors. The first law, the Antigang Law was enacted in 1992. The second law implanted in 1994, the Three-Strikes-and You are Out Law, which increased the jail time for offenders convi cted of 3 or more felonies. The third law, 1996, passed by the U.S. Congre ss extended the get-tough-approach to immigration law. As a result of these laws law enforcement captu red hundreds of young Latin criminals, who were then sent to jail for crimes they committed. The Salvadoran


61 Immigrants rounded up by the police gave th emselves the number 13 in line with 13th street out of the City of Los Angeles (Bruneau, 2005: 20). They adde d to these words to be named Mara trucha 13: Mara, a Spanish slang for “gang” and “trucha” stands for “trout” in Spanish, and is the slang word for a shrewd person … and they used prison as a cell for gang communication (Bruneau 2005: 20). Historically, this gang has gr own since its inception in the 1980s out of Los Angeles from a first generation turf-orie nted gang to a well developed third generation level gang and is currently a global transnational criminal organization. The MS-13 gang became very well known to law enforcement particularly in the c ity of Los Angeles, California in the early 1980s (WOLA 2006:3; Flores and Romano 2005: 23-24). They pr esent some of the worst problems for law enforcement across the states of Texas, California New York, Maryland, and to a somewhat lesser de gree, Florida (Cardenas 2007: 14). Its membership varies, between 10,000 and 20,000 in the U.S., but some figures are higher (Kraul, Lopez and Connell 2005:1-3; Bruneau 2005: 2). Howell (1 994: 498) noted they ha ve even inhabited cities across the U.S. with populatio ns of one half million or less ; so, it would not be surprising to find this gang in cities like Frederick, Maryland, with a popu lation of 57,009 as of 2004. As a result of this gang proliferating across the U.S., the FBI has set up an MS-13 gang task force unit in an effort to contain the gang from pro liferating even more (Kraul, Lopez and Connell 2005: 1-3). This gang is made up of the transnationa l families’ children th at took up residence with their family primarily in Los Angeles. This same kind of violence spread rather quick ly around other states as youths took up residence, particularly in the streets of Chicago, Illinois. Th ese youth became afraid of the dealers they worked for and the territories the dealers controlled. They carved out their own


62 territory as a result a nd many of them carried out their own drug trade. No longer was it acceptable to them to simply control territory, they wanted to dictate to authorities. This insecurity is instilled into i ndividuals living in the neighborh oods in which thes e gangs take up residence and creates fear for the residents. They take up residence by way of occupying abandoned homes and buildings from fearful residents and business owners due to their horrific crimes, especially murder A classic case of this situat ion has been reported in Orange County, California (Villa and Meek er 1999: 15). As a result, people move out of such gang neighborhoods in fear for their lives. Orange County, California had to find a way to deal with the gang related crimes it had been enduring, so the law enforcement there implemented a new program to hinder the activities and functioni ng of these violent youth groups. The program was led by the Orange County Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association or (OCCSA) and the Gang Steering Strategy Committee or (GSSC). Specifically, it was a gang incident tracking sy stem or (GITS). The system was put in plac e in 1993 and data from the system explained in a study conducted by the gang researchers Villa and Meeker (1 999) through the years 1994-1997, th at violent incidents exceeded all other incidents. Violen t gang related incident s being for example, terrorism, homicide, assault an d battery, kidnapping, sexual assault, an d robbery had far exceeded other crimes such as arson, auto th eft, and burglary. Thus, in 1994 there were 1,628 violent gang incidents in this county, whereas there were only 7 incidents associated with arson, 169 incidents associated with auto theft, and 316 incidents associated with burglary in the same year. This made a total of only 492 property incidents brought about by gangs in Orange County. The total vi olent incidents by gangs in this county in 1995 were 1,598 compared with only 425 propert y incidents. In 1 996 violent incidents increased to 1, 832


63 compared with only 235 prope rty incidents and in 1997 violen t incidents associated with gangs was 1, 578 compared with st eadily decreasing property inci dents, a total of only 204. Indeed, the gang incident tracking system or (GITS) that had been put in place by the Orange County Chief’s and Sheriff’s Asso ciation proved useful. In fact, as these results of violent gang incidents became so eviden t, the U.S. Congress began to take notice and such incidents led to the enactment of so me very tough new laws. As the U.S. gang violence increased, C ongress extended get-to ugh approaches to immigration law. Young gang memb ers were sentenced to prison and convicted as adults as were their crimes. In 1996, Congr ess enacted laws to strip any foreign-born American felons of their citizenship and expelled them from the country after they served their prison terms. These new laws increased the crim es that qualified as deportable crimes to include property convictions such as burglary and other convictions such as driving under th e influence or (DUI), crimes considered moral turpitude or the act of wrong doing. (Ara na 2005: 99) reports that as a result of these tougher laws, “an estimated 20,000 young Central American criminals whose families settled in Los Angeles in the 1980’s after flee ing civil wars at home, were deported to countries they barely knew. Many of the deport ees were native English speakers who had arrived in the United States as toddlers with their parents, bu t had never bothered to secure legal residency or citi zenship.” The deportees were sent to countries throughout Central America including Guat emala, El Salvador and Hond uras and because of the new immigration laws that had been passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996, the criminal backgrounds of the deportees could not be disclosed. According to Arana (2005), U.S. official’s hands were tied by the new law pass ed, they could not disc lose to the Central American governments who the new arrivals really were.


64 Emergence of MS-13 and Ma ra 18 in Central America The emergence of the mara’s in Central Am erica dates back to 1992. It all started for the Central American go vernments as they had no idea init ially who these ki ds were. Large waves of U.S. deportations ha d taken place after the Los Ange les riots of 1992. Thus, Central America, specifically El Salv ador and Honduras began to see the new arrivals along with the dangerous threats they posed. Because many kids had been le ft behind in the large waves of transnational migration of families in the 198 0s, many of these gang members of MS-13 and the 18th street gang out of Los Angeles found recr uitment of new members due to the large numbers of disenfranchised youth left behind by the families from years before. In Central America, the 18th street gang took the na me Mara 18 or M-18. As Arana (2005) reports, the more the deportations of MS-13 and 18th street gang members rose out of Los A ngeles, the greater the number of maras gr ew in Central America. Basica lly, all the U.S. Congress and Immigration did, was transplant ed the problem soon to gr ow into a bigger problem. In El Salvador, with a popul ation of only 6.5 million pe ople as of 2004, these gangs could now boast membership of 10,000 with 20,000 ve ry young associates. Further reports out of Honduras according to the Ho nduran authorities, put the gang population at 40,000 and the United Nations reports that 45 pe rcent of Central Americans in ge neral are 15 years of age or younger. In summary, transnational migration of Central American families and U.S. deportation laws of U.S. gangs, specifically, the MS-13 and the 18th street gang, played significant roles in the emergence of the modern Central American street gang today in Central America. These gang members recruite d thousands of young disenfranchised children as young as nine years of age in these Central Ameri can countries. Joini ng the gangs was easy


65 enough, as long as one was willing to endure a beating by way of su ffering kicking and punching from adults for 13 seco nds. Interestingly, the juvenile members of these gangs in Central America, just like their counterparts in the U.S., part icipate more in petty crime, while the adults serve more of the se rious criminal activity. Honduras currently has a murder rate of 154 for every 100,000 people because of these gangs (Arana 2005: 100). Such a murder rate strongly suggests the bulk of these killings in Honduras, if not all of them, are carried out by adult gang members. Arana (2005) indicated the average gang memb er is 19 years of age. Economic Activity of Gangs in Central America These gangs and the wars they engage in over territory, cr eate a very unsafe environment for the public, businesses, and law enforcement officers in Central America. In fact, today, as has been the case in the past, in San Pedro Sula Honduras, it is advisable not to walk the streets after dark because the risks of violence associated with these new Central American street gangs are far too great (Schma lzbauer 2005: 10). The sa me is true in El Salvador, particularly it s capital, San Salvador were clashes occur be tween the MS-13 and the M18 gangs. They now control no t only territories and businesses, but intimidate the local residents in these Central Amer ican countries. The evidence su ggesting gang presence in these horrific Honduran cities is evident on trains, corporate buildin gs, shops, and other forms of transport and facilities, even the police are afra id and have been for quite some time. Apart from being under funded and short staffed, the po lice and their families’ are given life threats for any interference on the gangs and their desi re for control of spac e and territory-power. Because of these specific incidents that occu r today and the poor economy of the past and present, many Honduran parents left this poor country in search of better prosperity for their


66 families. Migrant Remittances. The Honduran migrants remit more than $500 million dollars per ye ar back to their respective families, which according to data from (Inter-American Development Bank: 2001) (as cited in Schmalzbauer 2005: 11), is more money than Honduras can earn from all of its banana, coffee and seafood industr ies within the same period of time. Therefore, it is no wonder why these particular family members woul d be motivated to leave for better pay and working conditions in the United States. Remitt ances play a major role in terms of paying the fees to help many migrants travel across bo rders into the U.S. legally and illegally. Schmalzbauer, (2005) a Honduran family resear cher, interviews a tr ansnational migrant. Interview of a Transnational Migrant: The Role of Remittances. “My aunt was the first one here. Then she br ings her sister, then her brother. Each helps each other. Because we have a big famil y, and from each family they bring one child. Then I have one aunt in Hondur as who has seven kids. She has one child here, and she’s planning on bringing one of her sisters. And we always help. Like they helped me come, because my mother has four kids. And they helped my brother. They left two of my sisters. And now I bring one of my sisters. And the other one is st aying over there w ith my mother. To get each person here, we all get together and everyone gi ves a little money until we have all the money we need, and then we send it”. (Schmalzbauer 2005: 63), interview of a transnational migrant (Beatriz) li ving in the United States. The trouble is that many migr ants overstay their visas a nd violate the conditions of work permits and therefore fall into the category of illegal immigrant status, which prompts U.S. immigration officials to go on a man-hunt to detain, penalize and deport them. Many


67 however, simply leave these Cent ral American countries and tr avel on tourist visas to the United States with no intenti on of returning, which is a crim e and some receive temporary protected status once th ey arrive. They find work with construction companies, meat slaughter companies, private he alth, and other industries by wo rd of mouth from family who emigrated lawfully to the United States, particularly those Honduran families that claimed and qualified for the amnesty program of 1986 under President Ronald Reagan and his Administration (Schamal zbauer 2005: 22-33). 8The emergence of the MS-13 continues to become a growing problem and deportation is only damaging Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, increasing insecurity in the United States. 8 Amnesty Program of 1986 was a program developed during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan designed to grant legal status to illegal immigrants who had been in the United States during this time. Many of these immigrants included, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans.


68 CHAPTER FIVE: ADVERSE EFFECTS OF U.S. DEPORTATIONS IN CENTRAL AMERICA AND RE-ENTRY TO THE UNITED STATES Deportation of members of vi olent youth groups/gangs back to their countries of origin had several adverse effe cts for the respective Centra l American country, increased crime and local political and economic manipulati on in the form of intimidation of politicians and harassment of business owne rs. The biggest challenges for these gang members upon deportation from the U.S. back to the respective Central Ameri can country was their lack of legal documents, lack of Spanis h language skills, education, and money. They had no access to gainful employment and schools, so some co ntinued to participate in the drug trade for monies and support for their own drug habits as well as hu man trafficking of migrants, robbery, and rape. Also, ma ny of the older adults participated in contract murder particularly of select targets, often politicians or their fam ily members. Later, they threatened businesses, and bus routes mainly in El Salvador and Honduras (Kemp 2007). Arana (2005) reported that the Soyapango neighborhood of San Salvador has become an area subject to fier ce turf wars between the MS-13 and the M-18. Many of the immoral attributes th ey developed in Los Angeles became even worse after deportation in San Salvador, as evident in their violent acts described by Rhodes (20 00). Additional laws we re enacted in attempts to deal with the increased violence of thes e deported gang members. The Strong Ha nd Legislation According to Arana (2005), legislation of the strong hand law (mano dura) in


69 Honduras had its roots in the attempted kidnapping and subs equent death of a young man by the name of Ricardo Ernesto Maduro Andre u. Maduro’s father, Ricardo Maduro, was devastated by the fact his son had been killed by the maras. In fact, his son’s death in 1997 was one of the main motivations behind his driv e to run for President in 2001, later becoming President, serving between January 27, 2002 to January 27, 2006 with the National Party of Honduras, (PNH). This tragedy brok e Ricardo’s heart a nd his thirst for re venge against these gangs increased. After Ricardo Maduro became the Presid ent of Honduras in 2002, he quickly implemented a new anti-gang law known as “the strong hand,” which imprisoned anybody that looked like a gang member or even suspec ted of being a gang memb er (Arana 2005). This new law imprisoned many youth for many years, up to twelve, merely on suspicion of being affiliated with a gang. Maduro’ s legislation was extremely tough for many of the youth. The prison systems swelled by as much as 200%. The prison conditi ons worsened with overcrowding and riots resulted during the ye ars of 2003 through 2004. The strong hand legislation implemented by the Presiden t was working as far as President Maduro was concerned, reducing gang violence on the streets, which impressed other Central American countri es. Shortly after 2004, Guatemal a and its neighbors Panama and Nicaragua considered such le gislation with intent to adop t similar models (Arana 2005: 100). Due to Ricardo Maduro’s st rict legislation and tough law platform, these violent youth groups became more aggr essive and violent in retaliation against thes e tough laws and those politicians who drew them up. These youth gang s increased their violen ce in the form of gruesome deaths and mass killings, particular ly against young women. They used machetes to cut off heads and left the deca pitated bodies in open sight in the Honduran and Guatemalan


70 streets. Their means of murd er became their signature. This extreme violence was a political demonstrat ion on the part of the maras against these new adopted anti-gang laws, all in an atte mpt to show the Guatemalan and the Honduran governments that the maras would not be intimi dated by the authorities or the newly adopted legislation. Thus, these gangs became increasingly violent precisely because of these new antigang laws passed by leaders such as Ricardo Ma duro, explaining the unintended consequence of the strong hand legi slation in the Central American re gion (Arana 2005: 98-110). Ricardo Maduro’s revenge was a very to ugh platform, but the maras reve nge would be even tougher. Recruitment and Expansion of Gang Members Because there were large numbers of Cent ral American children disenfranchised throughout the region, specifical ly, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the MS-13 members who had been deported out of Los Angeles to these co untries in 1992 found thousands of new recruits. As gang membership grew, so too did the la ws against gangs and the authorities in these count ries just became more inhosp itable toward these youth. Manwaring (2005:12-13) estimate d that the Salvadoran gangs included approximately 39,000 active members in El Salvador. These gangs include the famed Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Mara 18, and several others in El Salvador -Mao Mao, Crazy Harris ons Salvatru cho, and Crazy Normans Salvatrucho. Ac cording to Arana (2 005: 98), “the marabuntas or maras (known after a deadly species of ants) pose the most serious ch allenge to peace in the region since the end of Centra l America’s civil wars”. As these gangs recruited thousands of new young recruits, they became a much bigger and more sophisticated gang as a result. Due to their size as reported by Manw aring (2005), the author ities were hunting them to stop their


71 reach across borders. As a result, some gang memb ers have turned their sights to Tapachula, Mexico bordering Guatemala as of early 2003. They found a way to make profits other than drug smuggling. To date, they act as border patrol agents albeit illegal agen ts. They actually charge migrants who try to cros s the Mexican border into the U.S. monies to get across the border. The fee accord ing to Arana (2005) ra nges between $5,000 to $8,000 U.S.D. per migrant. Migrants who fail to pay the fee ar e murdered by way of machete or AK-47s. The maras work in connectio n with the alien smugglers (coyotes) who provide the means for the migrants to get across the bord er. For those migrants that ran the risk of tryi ng to cross the border without the aid of the ga ngs in connecti on with the coyotes, th ey faced being caught either by the gangs themselves or the border patrol o fficers. Migrants who took this risk were often caught by the gangs. The gangs would kill them in such a way by decapitating their bodies as a warning to other migr ants thinking of avoiding thei r fee and crossing the border. Some of them have also learned to become bi-lingual and work with others in the U.S., particularly the coyotes-alien sm ugglers. One way to hunt them is to search them out by their identifiers, predominantly gang graffiti and body tattoos. Gang Identity. Gang identity is strong and important. Gang graffiti and body tatt ooing help define their identity and gang member ship (Kemp 2007; Aizenman 2006). Their tattoos tend to be gothic in style and art, with specific designs adopted by a se lect gang. Individuals bearing these tattoos and are no longer gang members, are unable to gain employment because of their association with gang membership. Many em ployers are afraid to hire these non-gang individuals because of their prior gang associati on. As a result, these non-gang individuals try to have the tattoos removed by going to special clinics. Those who cannot afford the removal


72 fee attempt to remove the tattoos by using acid on their skin. To date, these clinics have come under fire by the members of the MS-13 for assisting these individuals and are under going extreme death threats and harm to their businesses for their assistance in removing the tattoos from th ese individuals as noted by Aizenman (2006). These death threats that these youth use on societ y are very similar to the death threats posed in earlier history by death lists and death squads used against th eir families who, as discussed, were mostly simple peasants, farm laborers and campesinos. Kemp ( 2007) notes the tattoos present another problem for thes e youth. The tatto os help authoritie s to make a quick identification for capturing these youth when they try to come into the U.S. or are deported and those who make it into the U.S. are depor ted back to Central America. The tattoos therefore, make it easy for the authorities to determine the type of ga ng they may belong to and the respective Central American country they sh ould be sent back to. Re-Entry into U.S. According to Coutin (2005: 5-33), the gang members eith er re-entered the United States alone as adults, or th ey came back in groups, typi cal of younger indi viduals. Alien smugglers known as “coyotes” we re a primary means of re-e ntry for the younger groups. These illegal smugglers were ofte n U.S. citizens or in some instances, corrupt profiteering border patrol officers. For a f ee, these corrupt patrol officers decided which individuals they would illegally allow into the U.S. Thus, th e new MS-13 that re-ent ered the U.S. between 2004 and 2005 had money to contra ct with the corrupt border pa trol officers and coyote smugglers to successf ully traffic themselves and others back into th e U.S. The illegal and corrupt triangle for gang re -entry into the U.S. was underground and dangerous.


73 Many Salvadorans, Guatemalan s and Hondurans re-entered th e United States through Mexico as discussed in Chapter Three. The members of the MS-13 are no exception here. Once they entered the United States via Mexico with the aid of alie n smugglers as noted by Coutin (2005), they migrated across states rang ing from California, Te xas, Florida, further north to Washington D.C and even New York, a nd Massachusetts. They clashed with other gangs such as the Black Guer illas, The Latin Kings, Skin Heads, and created problems, committing crimes that range from petty to much more serious such as murder. They essentially spread from the West Coast to the cen tral parts of the United States on to the East Coast states spreading south even as far as Miam i (Kutler as cited by Ca rdenas 2007). This spread required that governments develop strategic solu tions and alternatives to decrease the spread of these fighting gangs and their threat s to society. The gang that has emerged to day has its roots in the de portees of 1992, the difference is that the deportees of 1992 we re territorial minded only, fi rst generation characteristics (Manwaring 2005), and not organized or soph isticated. The gang that came back is a transnational problem, third generation (Man waring 2005), capable of recruiting, organizing, crossing borders, and carrying ou t all the functions of the firs t and second-generation gang types. This organization and s ophistication came from the extreme experience and exposure to the strong hand anti-gang laws that emerged in response to the growing gang problems in Central America as a direct re sult of U.S. deportat ion in general and th e death of Ricardo Ernesto Maduro Andreu in Honduras specifically, which caused his father to initiate the tough anti-gang laws. The maras needed to find more hospitable lands moving north toward the U.S. again. “In one of the most in-depth studies in El Salvador on youth gangs in San Salvador, the influence of these U.S. gangs with Central American memb ers can be found through the


74 leadership of the gangs, some of whom are de portees”(Eekhoff and Aval os 2003: 35). They are a real transnationa l problem with so many youth who ha ve no aim in life except robbery, drugs, extortion, rape human trafficking, and murder. “What is far from clear is the level of transnational exchange that exists between young people who partic ipate in these gang activities in different places” (ibid). To date, the mara s have some 5,000 members in the Washington D.C. area and according to Arana (2005), their favorite killing weapon is the machete, the working tool of the Ce ntral American peasant (campesino). Those who make it to U.S. soil claim their right to asylum. Cout in (2005) goes on to say, “Once they arrive in the U.S. some of them gain access to activist s, who help them to claim asylum granting them time to stay”. Acco rding to Vanden (2007), asylum is granted to those who successfully clai m that they would be killed if retu rned back to thei r homeland. Of course, the authorities must verify these facts before granting asyl um to these individuals. The problem for many of these youth s out of Central America part icularly San Salvador, El Salvador and Tegucigalpa as well as San Pedro Sula, Honduras, is that they find themselves excluded in their home country. When they migr ate illegally to the Un ited States naturally with no legal documents, they find themselves excluded again. De portation then further elevates their anger and frustr ation with society, thus they turn to drugs and fellow gang members of the same gang as a means for inclus ion, respect and belongi ng. These gangs then communicate within their respective cliques by using body signals, idioms and language modifications (Eekhoff and Avalos 2003: 35-36). This creates significant problems for law enforcement, particularly thos e who are recent hires or trai nees who do not understand such gang language. The gangs’ scope of power and control was a direct result of their te rror, violence, and


75 growth. The gangs reacted to strong hand laws w ithin and across countrie s, fighting against all efforts to constrain and stop them. They became increasing aw are of political influences to contain and capture their members within their territories. Manwaring (2005) reported that some 39,000 active MS-13 gang members had claime d territory in El Salvador, and were controlling political, racial an d ethnic activities and membership (Martin 2005: 23 ). As their gang membership expands, their political aw areness and control in creases (Martin 2005). Thus, the third generation gang is highly institutionalized an d networked within and across territories and borde rs, becoming increasingly sophisticated and violent as it grows. Martin (2005) reported that it has become a direct threat to the U.S. in terms of security because they disobey and disregard U.S. law in all phases of crime. Gangs’ Control of Local G overnments and Communities Gangs cause so much crime that loca l governments and communities become destroyed, whether in the U.S. or Central America. Aizenman (2006) described the extent of destruction MS-13 gangs caused to El Salvador’s businesses and communities in just one month one month of gang violence consumed one year’s worth of success. The members of the MS-13 threatened business ow ners and forced them into pa ying the gang members’ rent in exchange to allow the business owner to continue working in their respective communities (Aizenman 2006). If the business owner failed to pay the rent, the gang would retaliate by burning buildings, threatening thei r lives and that of their fam ilies. Kemp (2007) noted that even local bus dr ivers had to pay gang memb ers to run the lo cal bus through part icular routes. Failure to pay would result in the bus driver being forced to take a different route. In some cases the gang member would either assault or shoot the bus driver fo r non-payment. This


76 research by Kemp (2007) on ga ngs confirms the research from Arana (2005: 98) The destruction to communities includes loss of roads, br idges, schools, shops, homes, and local businesses. In El Salvador, Guatem ala, and Honduras, th e government becomes very vulnerable and victim to the demands of the gangs. Government official too must pay attention and meet the demands of these ga ngs. Their governments often do not have sufficient funds to provide law enforcement officials with the necessary human and equipment resources to combat the occurrence and spread of MS-13 and M18 violence, nor do they have the proper infrastructure to stop gang proliferation, whic h requires intervention and prevention. This situ ation is exactly why some experts believe that Central American governments’ sovereignty and pow er are threatened by the MS-13 and th e M-18 gangs. Threats to Security and Sovereignty The security becomes compromised as these gangs build up in part icular countries. Communities become run down as the gang member s take control over their territory they claim, which results in higher crime rates. Th e sovereignty in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras falls into jeopardy as th e rules of those count ries and the roles of the authorities are violated. In many areas, the poli ce are basically ignored while th ese gangs seek to make and create their own rules of authority, as inferred from Manwaring (2005). These Central American governments are th reatened by the MS-13, which ultimately threatens their ability to demonstrate procedural democracy in this part of the world. “It cannot be emphasized enough how tentative and fragile these Central American politicaleconomic systems are following de cades of authoritarianism and internal confli ct. It would not take much to destabilize them now.” (Boraz and Bruneau 2006: 39-40). Because the U.S.


77 has a long history of promoti ng democracy throughout the worl d, fighting corruption, poverty, and dictatorial rules of government, it would be in the interest of the U.S. to stop the growth of this gang so that democrac y can flourish. Deportatio n only fuels their growth. Procedural Democracy Manwaring (2005: 29) suggests that procedural democracy exists wherever there are elections regardless of the corr uption, lack of national developmen t, as well as protection of human rights and liberties. Procedural democrac y tends to focus on the election of civilian political leadership and the level of participation on the part of the electo rate (ibid). Elections are held regularly in Central America, which includes Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but leaders and candidates as well as existi ng politicians are threatened and sometimes assassinated for runnin g. Additionally, their family’s spouse and chil dren receive direct threats from the gangs and the Mara Salvatrucha is no exception as this gang is involved in a political battle for space and territory (ibid). They sometimes intimidate political parties and support radical groups (Boraz and Bruneau 2006: 40). Elections are hindered and political candidates, simple civilians, ar e often killed. Pro cedural democracy is delayed, essentially prohibited by these gangs. T hus these new fighting gangs need to be controlled and contained by the U.S. authorit ies in other ways rather than deportation, as this procedure, deportation, has many adverse effects for all countries involved.


78 CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION This research has explained th e historical evoluti on of modern Centra l American street gangs, specifically the fighting ga ng as defined by Miller (1982) in Chapter One, and referred to as the third generation gang by Manwaring (2005) In Chapter Two, the history of these three specific countries, Guatemala, El Salvador and Hondu ras, explained th e conditions of anarchy, civil war, which lead to poverty, unemp loyment, underemployment, internal political chaos and reliance on foreign powers. Some families from these countries fled those countries, which resulted in migration to other parts of Central America and emigration into parts of the U.S., due to the brutality and economic conditions as discusse d in Chapter Three. In Chapter Four, the pr ocess of transnational migration was explaine d in relation to the emigration of these families to flee the conditions they were originally living in. They came to America to improve their socioeconomic status and escape dictatorial rule. Many of these migrants came to the U.S. lawfully, while othe rs came unlawfully. Chap ter Five explained the conditions for those w ho came to the U.S. unlawfully. Ad ditionally, the adverse effects of deportation back to their homel and were discussed, focusing on violence within and across borders. Due to the violence ac ross borders and the onset of globalization, thes e violent youth groups/ gangs have developed hybrid identities and have become growing transnational criminal organizations. The direct impact of these violent youth on government and international affairs is that these fighting gangs now jeopardiz e domestic and international politics in terms of electoral


79 and diplomatic breakdown. In so me ways this threatens the security and in some respect sovereignty of Guatemala, El Sa lvador and Honduras, due to the challenges they present for the authorities in addition to hindering proce dural democracy from f unctioning properly in these countries. In some ways th e U.S. is affected as its di plomatic and fo reign exchanges between these countries can beco me hindered due to the threat of democracy from failing. These gangs have compounded years of struggle on top of authoritarianism and internal struggle from years before, so procedural demo cracy struggles to functi on in a world of prior and present corruption. Th e fighting gang seizes control of te rritory and space, which in turn reverses the roles of authorities in all phases of the local governments in these countries and places that same power the authorities nor mally have into thei r corrupt hands. By deporting the gang members out of the Unit ed States and back to their countries of origin, the national governmen t and local governments in Gu atemala, El Salvador and Honduras are being weakened beca use these youths have taken b ack all the form s of crimes they committed in the United St ates with them; intensifying th em because of the culture of violence and use those same acts there, which in cludes murder, robbery and felonious assault (Villa and Meeker 1999: 15). Th is is very much a new fusion of culture and a new breed of gangs that has evolved. The key difference is that they destroy the weaker communities and governments quicker than they co uld have in the United States had the U.S. authorities found another alternative to deal with these gang members other than the process of deportation. Therefore, the entire process of the judicial and prison system fails to work in the way in which it was initially intended, because pris on itself is only a training ground for these criminals who find ways to communicate with ot her members in the U.S. and these respective Central American countries. As the prison system swells, memb ers of these gangs eventually


80 are released and many of these become messengers for those still detained to those on the streets. Because many of these gang members are very young, they ar e released and relay communication for those in prison and these youn g members develop the new skills and body language when they are being held in prison by the older memb ers of the gangs. Members mix with each other therefore and eventually multiply. Processing the inmates is much like deporting them. The problem only grows into a bi gger problem and these gangs become larger and more sophisticat ed as a result. As Manwaring (2005: 18-19) no ted, these gangs use different strategies to accomplish their goals. “These organizations help transn ational criminal organi zations, warlords, drug barons, and insurgents erode the effective sovereignty of the nation-state; and, gangs phenomena are challenging the trad itional ways of de aling with law enforcement and national security issues. Effect ive response requires not so much a redefinition of military and police missions as the holistic use of all th e instruments of state and international power.” As a result of gangs and the threats they pose to the state, state failure oc curs. Manwar ing (2005: 33) indicates that state fail ure is a process by which a state looses its capacit y and will to perform its essential governance and secu rity functions. This is currently happening in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and San Salvador, El Salv ador such that you should not walk all too many streets of these cities after dark (Schmalz bauer 2005: 10-11) as the authorities have no control over these violent gangs nor the horrific acts they co mmit. Although they may not be as great a threat in the U.S. mainly because of adequa te technology, funding and manpower to stop them, they certainly have become a real a nd imminent threat in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras due to the weaker government and their lack of funding and manpower as inferred from Kutler and reporte d by Cardenas (2007). In essence, the developing global


81 world in which we all now li ve in has aided th ese violent youth to become a global transnational criminal organization resulting in global gang crime a nd hybrid identities. Effects of Globalization Scholte (2000: 1 60-161) argued, “globali zation has contributed to a growth of hybrid identities and overlapping communities in contemporary world polit ics.” “Hybridization compels a person to negotiate seve ral national and/or non-territorial affiliations within the self. To explicate, in a world where communities are usually construc ted through reciprocal exclusion, people with hybrid identities (an in creasing proportio n of the population) tend to be lost souls” (Scholte 2000: 161). I would argue that the MS13 gang members ar e no exception here; thus, these very different people, politics and i ndeed gangs clash and cause feelings of exclusion even more so, especially in these gang towns across Central America, such as Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Good exampl es of gangs in co nflict are the mara 18 or M-18 street gang, clashi ng and competing for space w ith the MS-13 living in San Salvador, El Salvador. This competition for space a nd territory results in solida rity within communities and tension with outside foreign te rritories referred to by Scholt e (2000: 161) as “us-them oppositions”. However, globali zation and crossing borders re quires that individuals and groups hybrid their identity because of multiple nati onal affiliations. To Scholte, this view of clashing communities explains strains among governme nts. Scholte (2000: 161) states that “Under contemporary globalization, as in earl ier modern history, la rge-scale communities have consolidated primarily th rough ‘othering’ where ‘we’ are separated from ‘them’, and the ‘inside’ is opposed to th e ‘outside’”. I would argue that as long as this concept of “us-them


82 oppositions” continues, th e local government and law enforcement across the U.S. and Central America will have to deal with the threats these ev olving and clashing gangs present. Alternative Responses to Strong Hand Legislation A partial solution to the problem is for governments to provide law enforcement with the proper technology, funding and manpower to monitor the movements of these gangs, a suggestion that is prov ided throughout the academic commu nity as noted by President Carl Kutler of St. Petersburg Colleg e and reported by Cardenas (2 007). Although getting at the root causes (civil strife, poverty and broken families) may offe r the only lasting solution. This is why one cannot simply ignore this problem and focus pr imarily on Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of homeland security Non-state actors like the MS-13 are also all over; it just depends on which ones are most relevant to capture. Pu tting GPS devices around e ither their wrists or ankles at all times afte r serving time for their crimes would be another possible way to monitor their movements. Providing law enforcement the needed tools such as computers in the less developed countries, pa rticularly Guatemala, El Salva dor and Honduras would be a good response to the law violat ing youth group phenomena. In 2007, Cardenas reported that Kutler dona ted all of St. Peters burg Colleges old computers to the Guatemalan po lice force in an effort to co mbat gang violence in Guatemala because the Guatemalan government could not afford to adequately staff it s police forces to combat these modern Central Am erican street gangs, let alone pay the associated costs for such technology. As reported by Cardenas (2007), Kutler foun d after a visit to Guatemala, that one way to stop the gang phenomena was to find a way to help the Guatemalan police forces control these gangs; so donating all of the college’s old co mputers to the local


83 Guatemalan authorities was a good start. His concern was to not only prevent gang growth in that country, but also to prevent their growth in hi s home state, Florida. Other solutions to resolve ga ng formation and problems asso ciated with gangs is to teach youths the importance of not joining gangs, to learn what currently works with gangs and prevent kids from joining in the first place. Other ways to control youth behavior are to set up programs to trai n parents how to control the behavi or of their troubled youths; but again, these kinds of prog rams tend to cost, so it is just a matter of deciding which program works best and which one is mo st feasible. Other suggestions, include te aching the youth the values associated with schoo l, guidance councilors, and e nhancing schools’ potential for helping them obtain employment. Unfortunately, the youth associated with the MS-13 and other gangs, have a long history of crime because there family’s history has been exposed to years of brutality and this brutality is inst illed in these youth. Deporting them greatly decreases their chances of doing something positive with their lives and causes more frustration in their lives bree ding anger with the governments and societ ies involved, and is, then, only making the problem worse. It might be time to rethink ap proaches to the gang problem.


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