El Salvador’s President Salvador Sánchez Cerén announced unprecedented action this week to combat the country’s mara street gangs. The policy of confrontation pursued by the Sánchez Cerén administration has already seen average daily homicide rates (23 over the first two months of 2016) eclipse those sustained during El Salvador’s bloody civil war (1980- 1992). Undeterred, Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander hounded by the security forces back then, ordered an intensification of the fight. He decreed a state of exception which, if approved by the legislative assembly, would be extended to the most violent municipalities in the country.

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