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El Salvador received some much-needed good news this weekend, when officials announced that Saturday was the first homicide-free day in the country in three years, Reuters reports.”After years when the number of murders reached alarming levels of up to 18 per day, we saw not one homicide in the country,” President Mauricio Funes said in a statement released on Sunday.
The central American country has been plagued by drug wars for years, but last month, a truce was brokered by the Catholic church (with help from the government) between Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18, the country’s two most powerful rival gangs, Salvadorian newspaper Contrapunto reports. However, Funes credits the drop to increased security measures.
At the beginning of Funes’ term as president in 2009, El Salvador saw an average of 12 murders a day, and according to statistics from the United Nations, the country’s homicide rate is 66 deaths per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the world. Much of the violence is blamed on Mexican cartels, who use the country as a transit point.
The Catholic church is reportedly now in talks with gang leaders to eradicate extortion, which mainly affect small and medium entrepreneurs. If it goes well, it could dramatically improve the country’s economy by attracting foreign investment, according to the president of the Central Reserve Bank (BCR), Carlos Acevedo.
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