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U.S. Pulls Peace Corps from El Salvador as Nation Becomes World Murder Capital

El Salvador appears to be slipping deeper into the grip of violence as the United States issues fresh travel warnings and the Peace Corps, a U.S. community service organization, exits the country.
In a short statement, the U.S. agency announced that it was suspending its operations in El Salvador due to the dangerous security environment. Peace Corps said it was pulling out its 55 volunteers who work on youth development and community economic development projects.
With an annual rate of 103 murders per 100,000 citizens, El Salvador recently surpassed Honduras to have the highest homicide rate in the world, according to Insight CrimeViolence has been on the rise steadily since the summer of 2015.
“U.S. citizens who are visiting El Salvador for extended periods are at higher risk for extortion demands,” said the U.S. State Department in a statement issued last week. Extortion is a very common crime in El Salvador. Some extortion attempts are no more than random cold calls that originate from imprisoned gang members using cell phones.
Worse still, many extortions and other crimes go unreported due to a fear of reprisal and lack of faith in the ability of the local government to protect the victims. Since 2010, the alert said, 34 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador, and the authorities are yet to arrest several suspected killers.
Terrified by the violence, many youths are heading towards the United States for better future. Reports say a large majority of children flocking across America’s southwest border are from El Salvador.
The government of El Salvador, according to the State Department, lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate crimes, prosecute cases, and deter violent crime. Violence is primarily blamed on criminal gangs, who are fighting against each other for control over drug trade, one of the key sources of their income.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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