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C L A L S W H I T E PA P E R S E R I E S | NO. 1 Religion and Violence in Latin America The El Salvador Gang Truce and the Church What was the role of the Catholic Church? by Steven Dudley M AY 5 , 2 0 1 3 Table of Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 I. The Church and Violent Conflict in El Salvador.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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  CLALS WHITE PAPER SERIES | NO. 1   Religion and Violence in Latin America Te El Salvador Gang ruceand the Church  What was the role of the Catholic Church? by Steven Dudley  MAY 5, 2013  Table of Contents Introduction .................................................................................. 2I. Te Church and Violent Conict in El Salvador ....................... 5II. Te Rise o Gangs ..................................................................... 8III. Gangs and the Church .......................................................... 11IV. Te ruce ............................................................................... 15V. Te Church and the ruce ...................................................... 22VI. Conclusions ........................................................................... 28 Cover photo courtesy o the Federal Bureau o Investigation.  1 Religion and Violence in Latin America  T  his white paper is one o a series produced by American University’s Center or Latin American and Latino Studies’   multi-year project   o research and structured dialogue on religion and violence in Latin America. In light o the consequences o criminal violence or the re-gion’s democracies, the project seeks to better understand how religiousactors are responding today, when they are less prominent than during the previousperiod o political, largely state-sponsored violence. Fresh research on Brazil, Chile,Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru allows comparative analysis be-tween dierent countries as well as past and present. Tese studies will be publishedas a scholarly volume.Project white papers aim to bridge and catalyze dialogue between scholarly andpolicy communities, religious practitioners and human rights activists. Tey are de-signed to inorm the ongoing eorts o religious leaders, policymakers and advocatesin civil society who seek eective strategies to diminish violence in contemporary Latin America and empower its victims.Research scholar in residence Alexander Wilde co-directs the project with CLALSDirector Eric Hershberg and University Chaplain Joseph Eldridge. Te project issupported by the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Afairs o the Henry Luce Foundation .For ongoing project developments, see: http://www.american.edu/clals/Violence-and-Victims.cm Steven Dudley is the director o InSight Crime, an initiative based at American University’s Center or Latin American and Latino Studies that investigates organized crime in the  Americas. Additional reporting and assistance was provided by Oscar Martínez, who is the director o Sala Negra, the wing o the Salvadoran-based online media outlet El Faro, whichinvestigates organized crime in Central America.  2 AU CENTER FOR LATIN AMERICAN & LATINO STUDIES  Abstract E l Salvador and its Central American neighbors are experiencing a terribletide o criminal violence. Homicide rates are some o the highest in the world. Tis scourge o violent crime is a major concern o policymakersboth in the region and in Washington, DC. Indeed, through regionalsecurity initiatives the U.S. government has invested more than $500million in violence reduction programs during the last ve years. European develop-ment agencies and international NGOs, similarly, have privileged violence reductionin their programs o nancial and technical assistance to El Salvador and neighbor-ing countries. Until recently, however, no policy initiatives seem to have made a signicant dent in the problem. Tis paper addresses one development that has beenportrayed in some circles as game-changing, and that now constitutes a critical pointo reerence or violence reduction programs going orward. Te truce among rivalgangs in El Salvador worked out in March 2012, which has held since that time,has reduced homicides to hal their previous levels. Te paper examines in particularthe widely held belie that the Catholic Church “brokered” that truce in light o the wider set o actors actually responsible and considers the various ways that religionmay have an impact on contemporary violence in the region.
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