Justine Strom, El Salvador
MA candidate, CAS/LFS
In March 2012 the two prominent gangs in El Salvador, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Mara Dieciocho (18th Street Gang), announced a truce. In light of this, I wanted to learn more about how this pact has, or has not, affected the general population. With the support of a Tinker Field Research Grant, I traveled to El Salvador in August 2012 to research community member´s attitudes regarding violence. I lived in three different marginalized communities with host families and participated in all of their daily activities. I conducted formal interviews with family and community members, met with non-profit organizations, attended local celebrations and visited several educational institutions.
I hope that my field study will help to outline difficulties involved in changing attitudes about violence in El Salvador. While many agents have been working to decrease violence, it will be difficult to erase the threat of violence, which has cultivated for years in the lives of the local population. I noted that factors such as opportunities for youth, economic initiatives and confidence in local police must also be addressed as underlying issues that often contribute to violence.