Gangs Have Virtually Shut Down El Salvador After Taking Over Public Transportation

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Violent gangs in El Salvador have shut down public transportation, keeping thousands of Salvadorans from going to school, work, or anywhere else they may need to be. Bus drivers are on an involuntary strike after receiving threats, and those who chose to defy the gangs’ wishes were killed, according to Reuters. The transportation system shutdown is the gangs’ way to get President Salvador Sanchez Ceren to negotiate and improve conditions for members who have been arrested. In the meantime, people are begging for rides or piling into trucks, where they are paying five times more than bus fare. NPR’s Kelly McEvers has been live tweeting with difficult-to-read updates:

In the first five months of 2015, murders rose 50 percent. Most of it is attributed to the fighting between Mara Salvatrucha and the Barrio 18 gang. Earlier in the month, NPR explained that the 677 death toll in June 2015 was equivalent to 22 people dying in Arizona or Tennessee in one month. At this rate, El Salvador could replace Honduras as the most murderous country in the world.