El Salvador, World’s New Murder Capital

Salvador Meléndez, a photographer for Revista Factum, has put together an album on the violence gripping El Salvador. His photos begin in 2010, recalling the horrific scene in which members of the Barrio 18 street gang set fire to a bus full of people. These images are a powerful testimonial to the social upheaval Meléndez refers to as the “war without commanders.”

Social violence. War. Last year, 6,657 murders. Between January 1 and February 21 of this year, 1,622 murders. An average of 23 Salvadorans assassinated every day during 2016, as confirmed recently by Howard Augusto Cotto, the director of the National Civil Police (PNC).

This article originally appeared in Revista Factum and was translated, edited for clarity, and reprinted with permission, but does not necessarily reflect the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

The victims can be gang members or the neighbor who sells stuffed tortillas in gang territory, where the army has no control. This is not to mention forced displacements, in which entire families must leave their homes behind out of fear.

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