Fighting to Feel Safe?
MS-13 began after the El Salvadorian civil war, where children watched their own government slaughter its citizens. J.M. Cruz researched Central American Maras, otherwise known as gangs, and wrote an article for the Global Crime outlining their birth and development. Cruz mentions the culture and background that gangs like MS-13 are coming from, governments wrapped in corruption; and suggests that this had an effect on the development of Maras. When MS-13 began to grow stronger, El Salvador reacted by enacting the Mano Dura law and then later the Super Mano Dura. Mano Dura was an El Salvadorian law that allowed police officers to arrest citizens without evidence of crime. Teenagers could be searched without reason and a tattoo would be a sure ticket to jail. Cruz added that, “the additional significant factor in the institutionalization of street gangs is the enactment of Mano Dura policies (Cruz, 2010).” Lineberger reports that since the Mano Dura laws, “gang activities have become more violent, moving toward homicide and trafficking in drugs and arms (Lineberger, 2011).” Lineberger wrote, “the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), reported, “Ironically, the Mano Dura approaches seem to have actually strengthened gangs as they band together to resist policing efforts (Lineberger, 2011).” The Mano Dura laws, according to Lineberger’s article, were against the constitution of El Salvador and in violation of citizen rights. The behavior of MS-13 and their reaction to injustice emphasizes the importance of maintaining citizen trust and upholding justice.