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El Salvador: Where Children Are Being Murdered In Record Numbers

Below is a translation of an article from El Diario De Hoy in El Salvador, dated April 12, 2016. As a caveat, there is little evidence to suggest that many of the murders were linked to gang members given that there were no arrests or concrete leads on the investigations.

It is also possible, such as the murder of the 4-month-old, that could have also been committed by the police. 

One last note: Julia and her niece did not survive their wounds.

“There are babies among the victims

Murder of 33 minors under 14 years of age registered

Similarly, homicides of youth between 15 and 19 years old has duplicated in three months of 2016.

Triple homicide in Delgado City on April 12, one of the victims was a four-month old baby

By William A Hernandez

April 24, 2016

Zoe was just a four-month old baby. She was starting to know her surroundings and identify some things. She ate her first meals different from the milk her mother gave to her. She was barely able to hold her head up. None of that will continue to happen…On April 12, her life was taken away along with her mother’s and grandmother’s in Delgado City. There have been no arrests and the possible motive of the massacre, along with others, remains unknown.

Zoe is one of the younger victims of gang violence that makes Salvadorans anxious and that in the first trimester of this year has taken the lives of 33 children aged between 0-14 years old, according to statistics from the Institute of Legal Medicine.

By this time last year, authorities registered 25 children murdered. The statistics reflect very few advances in the investigation of these murders.

According to the Institute of Legal Medicine, in the first three months of 2016, in comparison to the same period last year, the number of murders has increased.

For that matter, January registered the death of 12 children between zero and 14 years old; in 2015 there were eight; February of 2016 there were 11, and last year, eight, meanwhile in march of this year 7 murders were registered and in 2015, there were nine. In April of this year, authorities also registered at least three cases similar to Zoe’s sad story.

Repeatedly, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has insisted to the Salvadoran State to “double and intensify” the efforts to ensure the “physical and emotional integrity” of Salvadoran children “given the surge of violence” that inhabits the country; however, the numbers show the upward spiral that cannot be controlled by the current authorities.

“The violence directed at children and adolescents, as well as the presence of violent acts and abandonment in their native communities, can have negative effects on them, which many times are profound and enduring.” , said UNICEF of the many reports issued in the country regarding the spike in violence generated by the gangs.”

Child victims of gang attacks.

Like with Zoe, there are other stories of infants that have been killed by bullets fired by the gangs against their adversaries, whose motives remain defined by the rivalry of criminal groups.

Only in February there were 3 children murders registered and two more injured on being caught in the crossfire of the gangs.

One of those cases was a baby of 6 months who was injured  in one of his legs by a bullet. The violent act occurred in the neighborhood of Alta vista. (Translator’s Note: the 6 month old died shortly after being shot)

According to police forces, Julia Graciela Funes Cortez, of 23 years of age, was outside of her home with her niece of 6 months, when all of a sudden an alleged gang member approached her and began to shoot at her.

The young person, trying to protect the girl, turned her back on the attacker, who continued to shoot at her despite seeing that his victim had a baby in her arms.

The attack against Julia was executed, according to authorities by the Sureno faction of Barrio 18, who months earlier had murdered the young woman’s boyfriend.

Another very similar case was registered in the Delicias neighborhood, Municipality of Santa Cruz Michalpa, Department of Cuscatlan.

In that case, gang members attacked Hector Antonio Andrade Salguero, 41 years old, with gunfire, while he was covering his car at his home.

In the attack, a child of 6 years old was injured with a bullet to the head. He was Hector Antonio’s child.

The child was brought to the children’s hospital Benjamin Bloom in San Salvador, where he later died from his injuries.

The small child was in his second year of kinder in the school of Cojutepeque.

Subsequently, in the Italia Community, in San Bartolo, Municipality of Llopango, Jose Adonay was struck by a bullet in the head. He was barely 2 years old.

Next to the child was a presumed gang member, who was attacked with gunfire. He survived the attack, since his injuries were not serious. However, Josue Adonay died while receiving medical attention in a public hospital.

Elsewhere, another young child of 7 years old was struck by gang members’ bullets as well, in an attack directed at his father, Jose Isais Hernandez, of 31 years of age.

This act was committed in the El Angel neighborhood, Municipality of Teotepeque, Department of La Libertad. In this case, the child managed to survive.

Those attacks made the Attorney General, Douglas Menendez to go to the children’s hospital to promise to hold those responsible for the attacks and murders of children responsible, to double the efforts to stem the violence against infants. Nevertheless, the statistics have not decreased.

The homicides of children 15-19 years old doubled.

The statistics from the Institute of Legal Medicine also report an alarming increase in the murders of minors between 15 and 18 years old, for the first trimester of 2016.

The statistics report indicates that adolescent victims of attacks from the gang members have doubled compares to the same period last year.

The data registered is 409 murders of minors between 15 and 1, which in the same period of 2015 the authorities only verified 190 murder victims.

In January of 2016, the authorities extricated 128 cadavers, which represents a 17 percent increase in the number of homicides that the authorities have registered in that month: 736 violent deaths.

In adding the minors from 0 to 14 years we obtain 140 victims, which is the equivalent of 18 percent of the murders in all of the country.

In February of 20115, the number was 62 cases, in addition to the minors for the 70 violent acts against infants and adolescents.

In February of this year, the numbers have not changed the trend much, 139 violent deaths of those between 15 and 19 years old, which is the equivalent of 11 percent of all of the violent acts of the month, which was 656 deaths.

In the previous month of March, the authorities informed that 142 adolescents were murders, which represent 23 percent of the total violent deaths, the month ended with 626 victims of murder.

In The first trimester of 2015, without a doubt, registered numbers much lower than what the legal medical institute has reported for 2016.

Minors: Shields of the gangs.

The authorities frequently report or inform of violent acts where minors have been used as shield by the gangs to protect them from the attacks from their rival gangs.

Such is the case of Katherine Roxana, a child of 14 years old who died in an attack that targeted a known gang member in the area.

The case was reported by authorities in the Alta Vista neighborhood, by the Veracruz street.

Katherine Roxana was in a store buying groceries for her mother when a gang member was attacked with gunfire.

Katherine, had gone to buy, among other things, shampoo, some for the next day’s breakfast before she would leave to go to the school that she studied at.

Seconds after a gang member also arrived to buy something when he was his attackers and took Katherine by the neck with his arms, and tried to use the child as a shield, and unfortunately, was the person who was closest to him at the moment of the attack.

The gang member was wounded, but who suffered the brunt of the attack was Katherine.

The girl was struck by two bullets in the back, and although she was transported to the San Bartolo Hospital, she died while received medical attention.

Katherine Roxana studied in the 9th great in the Alta Vista school and would have turned 15 years the on April 20th.

The family of Katherine fled the Alta visa neighborhood, as well as the owner of the store where the attack had occurred.

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