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May 20th
¡Presente! Home
Gangs and the SOA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Guadalupe Chavez and Tiel Rainelli, SOAW Los Angeles   
When the chickens come home to roost. Gangs in the Americas and the Cycle of Violence and Domination. Images of Latino men with tattoos are often used by the media to generate fear and anti-immigrant sentiments.
When individuals and their experiences are dehumanized enough, many people turn away in fear. But if we step beyond those broad stereotypes and take a closer look, we can see that those tattoos tell war stories of long before their wearers were born and how their eyes offer insights into the psychological trauma and effects of repression and war. We see Children of War, some of whom have established one of the most well-organized and largest numbering street gangs in the country. Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13), a Salvadorian street gang formed in Los Angeles operates now out of at least 31 states and three countries. MS 13 has spread like a wild fire: sweeping across poverty-stricken areas of Central and North America. MS13 memberThe formation of MS 13 has a unique origin that needs to be understood.
During the 1980's, under the false logic of the Cold War, the United States provided direct military aid and School of the Americas training for the Salvadoran army that was systematically violating human rights in El Salvador. U.S. military aid, training, and on-the-ground advisors provided the government of El Salvador with the resources and know-how to terrorize the civilian population.

The war left over 70,000 dead and not a single soul untouched. Over two million people fled El Salvador with a great majority of them immigrating into the United States. Los Angeles became a refuge for many Salvadoran families.
Faced with oppression on the streets of Los Angeles, jobs were hard to come by and the schools and streets were occupied by gangs defending their territory and indifferent to the struggle of the newly arrived. MS 13 was born out of a need for self-defense and survival. 
Many MS 13 members are the sons and daughters of the people that fled the U.S. suponsored war in El Salvador. The 1990's were an incredibly bloody time for Los Angeles gangs and communities. "The War on Gangs gradually began to take shape in the mid 1990's after a 1996 immigration law in the U.S. facilitated the deportation of undocumented people serving more than two years in U.S. detention facilities. From 1996 to 2003, the United States deported 70,000 people to El Salvador." Those deported were not well received once they arrived in El Salvador, instead they were stigmatized and marginalized for their cultural differences and kept out of yet another system of employment, and education. In response to the deportations and the import of the gang culture from the United States to El Salvador, the Salvadorian government implemented "localized anti-gang measures and [formed] death squads that emerged to kill youth thought to be gang members."  The efforts of the Salvadorian government have been championed by the White House and Department of Homeland Security and have in fact led to the Salvadorian government's hosting of the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA).
The ILEA is a U.S. run police training school on Salvadorian soil. The school will train security forces from throughout Latin America and is operating from the exact mindset that has given rise to the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC). Both institutions are part of a racist system of violence and domination that promotes U.S. sponsored repression as the one-size-fits-all solution to social problems throughout the Americas. The anti-gang initiatives implemented and proposed by the United States and Salvadorian governments have done little to address the core conditions of tyranny that have given rise to the ever-developing gang culture.
MS 13 and other street gangs need to be understood and addressed in a context that recognizes and validates the systemic forces that have led to their creation, and incorporates the gang members into the decision making and strategic planning processes needed to tackle the vulgar injustices of being poor in the Americas. As Americans scour through policy books searching for a quick fix for the gang violence it is important to admit and take responsibility for the monster we have created. video game image of a Latino gangter with a gunAs Malcolm so eloquently put it, the chickens have come home to roost.


Published in the Fall 2007 issue

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The importance of understanding gangs
written by Malcolm Bush, October 19, 2008
Dear Readers,
I've just read the above iPresente article with great interest. I emphatically believe, articals such as this are of great importance. This artical encompasses the complexities and unpalatable realities, the comprehensive view of the bigger picture. Over here within the UK the general public have no knowledge of any of the issues covered by iPresente or the SOAW. Although gang culture has become a major rapid growing problem. I have spent some considerable time thinking about gang culture within the UK, I cannot help but consider if too some degree it has been engineered, possibly by accident, due to changes in the education system, law enforcement and the way the media report gang culture. The increase in availability of illicit drugs, has no doubt played a mojor role.
I believe what I would call, by-products of earlier military and political actions, spread far and wide, though the "war on terror" and so.
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written by LadyKazy377, December 12, 2008
MS 13 is nothing to joke about i know how they roll i dated one before and i have seen things i never wanted to see but the people that are there have reasons for joining like they need protection or they feel like the gang is like family they are misunderstood by far but that does not make up for their actions, even though i will never foerget the people i know in that gang because they realy are great people who can relate to alot.
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written by Hendrik, January 06, 2009
you can choose "Español" from the drop-down menue on the upper right corner of this webpage to read articles in Spanish!
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written by fat jay, January 12, 2009
I say if you resort to the violence ms13 have. We ( Americans) should use the same swift violence to combat it. I don't believe in any gang but at least the older ones, bloods , crips , hell's angles , Latin kings , never came on so strong. I understand very well the plite of imagrants having been born only 2nd generation out , but that doesn't exuse their Behavior. I think that here on our streets any criminal willing to kill should meet that same penalty. I used to deal and even carried a pistol but never used it. I only kept it incase some crazy person like the one you discribed tried to come at me. But like the old saying you live by the sword you die by the sword.
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thats not cool
written by kendra powless, March 31, 2009
this is not the life that the guys in the picture so and my half brother shawn was in ms-13 and he got shot and died from a rival gang member
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Muchos errores gramaticales
written by Hernán Iturralde, March 31, 2009
Les agradezco la nota, que es informativa y esclarecedora.
Pero, lamentablemente, está muy mal redactada y llena de errores gramáticales.
Sé que es un problema menor, considerando el tópico en cuestión, pero si el medio para transmitir estas noticias es el escrito, la escritura debería ser, al menos, correcta.
"...para generar miedo y sentimientos contra los inmigrantes." es una oración que podría estar traducida directamente del inglés, y no tiene sentido en español (aunque siendo generosos pueda entenderse). El miedo se genera, en todo caso, "a" algo y no "contra" algo; y los sentimientos en sí no son positivos ni negativos, hay que agregarles una idea para que se entienda.
"Mucho antes que sus portadores naciesen" Debría decir "mucho antes DE que sus portadores naciesen".
Luego del punto siguiente debería continuarse con mayúscula.
"...se han integrado a una de las pandillas callejeras más numerosas y mejor organizadas..." Si es UNA de las pandillas, entonces será más numerosa y mejor organizada, en singular.
"...la gran mayoría de ellos emigraron a los Estados Unidos..." Si es la gran mayoría debería decir EMIGRÓ y no emigraron, ya que "LA gran mayoría" es singular, y no plural.

En fin, la lista continúa.
No es una crítica, es sólo una observación.
Si les interesara que oficiara de corrector de sus textos no tengo nada en contra, es más, me gustaría, ya que quiero preservar el idioma castellano en la medida de mis posibilidades.
Por otro lado, si no les interesan las sugerencias, me llevaré mi música a otro sitio.

Muchas gracias por su atención.
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written by Mauricio, September 13, 2009
I completely understand the american view on these people. The sad pay is that even though the M.S.13 has brought violence into the country Americans also are held acountable because alot of these members work in cartels and Americans consume alot of drugs. Americans also have a big part in suppling them with weapons. I understand that these people are well misunderstood. They have the tatics of the war in Salvador when it was taking place. Leaving alot of careless mentality to the people. I am a proud Mexican-American and my older bother was sadly shot to death from rival gang ms18. I always saw my brother as a lost cuase. Growing up in Mexico he meet alot of Ms13 members in mexico city that migrated from cenral america. He became an active memberalong with most of my family. I did talk to him when I visited him in l.a. but I felt like he was a last cuase. Im not saying he didnt deserve it because he did look for his own death and he must of hurt others as well. I just hate gangs. I do miss my brother though... Im just 17 and im not involved in any ofthat stupidity. I just wish my family would see that its not going to bring anything good. I know how dangerous this gang is because of my family. I dont recomend any one to even look their way.
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written by ri si, February 09, 2010
What is the difference from the violence from MS13 and you so called americans. it is surviva.!. l I see as this land that was stolen by violence from the true americans THE AMERICAN INDIAN. violence for self preservation is okay when it is you. As the indians only wanted to be left alone at peace signing bullsahit treaties in return we were givin blankets infected with small pox are lands taken and childrens, babies heads beatin in with with rifles to save bullits. I am Mexican Bask and sho- pia indian. I am proud! Technically my people founded these lands and my people were already here. I hate reading or hearing that they coming here immagants, whos the immaggrants. You came here you road the boat. you clame what isnt wasnt yours.america is as much ours as yours.
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written by lucia, April 15, 2010
Hi...I think anyone who is a gang member..old school or whatever new gang..is STUPID!!Y'all should go find a job and do something usefull instead of dealing drugs and shit
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written by daniel, May 09, 2010
what an amazing head tattooo. very interessting
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written by 513 Slushville, December 12, 2010
yall ignorant tryin to say you better than us.. Noone ever said dealin drugs or guns was moraly wrong. THATS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAID. You perpin to think that you better cause i know everyone has done somethin "illegal" and the government is supposidly god now and they be tryin to say what is wrong and what is right, you just a bunch of stupid ass puppets taking orders frum some fucking pricks. 513 Slushville reppin till dealth.
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written by Oli, January 10, 2011
As an immigrant, i've seen the struggle of many latinos, most of whom i can relate to. As a 10 year old Mexican immigrant, comming to this country legaly thanks to the help of my Puerto Rican stepfater, I witnessed many racist and discriminatory acts against other latinos, especially toward children. I would have never imagined how hard life is in this country. My parents had to work, and even though they maged to give me attention and care, they were not always there, mainly because they had to work. With only 15 years of age, and a 4 year American dream, i can honestly say that I consider myself lucky. I do not consume drugs, i am not part of any gang and I still dream big. This all thanks to my family, mainly my mother, because she has showed me how much a person can accomplish if one strives for nothing but improvement.
Many people talk and criticize gangs, but they do not understand the inpact that tey have in society. Drugs are something high school students experience on an everyday basis. Even though most parents might think that their child is clean and secure from the dangers of drugs, they do not see how bad the problem is. We [children] live in a drug abundant enviroment, drugs are as common in schools as gum, and yet schools and parents fail to detect this. By the time a students graduates 8th grade, more than 3 drugs would be offered to him or her. By the time he or she gets to 9th grade atleast 2 of his or her friends would use drugs on a regular basis.
Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, and Central America all pay the high price of drug consumption in the U.S. Mexico has become a war zone that nobody dares to enter and all because the drug cartels have poisoned the mind of the children that live and deal with gangs and drugs. The drug cartels use the children as nothing but pawns they put them in the front lines of their army, while they sit and watch the money fall from the sky. We can not let this happen.! We consume the drugs that the cartels fight to protect, and yet we would rather see gang members as a plague of delinquents, rather than just boys and girls, corrupted by the masterminds behind the drug cartels.
I don't know how many people will read my "comment" but i do know that this problem has to be solved.
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Well Said...
written by bboy_adak, January 21, 2011
very good way to start in diminishng the gang power..great stuff!!. good point
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written by zach, February 27, 2011
no reason for gangs of mexicans to dominate AMERICA!!! fuck this
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none gang member
written by handyman, April 18, 2011
i was raised on 26 th st in chicago il iv seen things i will never forget. im not a very educated man but, i never joined the gangs they were all around me but, i never had the desire to be in one but. i do know this the love that these gangs have for each other is very real! i seen it with my own eyes they dont play when it comes to their own. they are like a family but never the less a violent family they all come from disfunctional homes thats why they end up in gangs thats my view of the whole thing.
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