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This project examines the question of why El Salvador is struggling to contain gang violence, despite the peace process that took place at the end of its civil war. The conventional explanations for why El Salvador, as well as its neighbors, have struggled to stop the spread of gangs, stress the effects of deportation from the United States, the U.S.'s involvement in the region through the War on Drugs, the effect of extreme levels of poverty, as well as the legacy of violence from the civil wars. This project then considers each of these variables separately and weighs the effectiveness of each explanation, before exploring one that has not been as emphasized when explaining the persistence of gang violence in Central America -- judicial reform. While the conventional explanations should not be ignored, judicial reform provides the clearest mechanism to explain why gang violence has been difficult to contain and why gangs continue to pose a threat to democratic stability in Central America.
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Presch, Stephanie Rose, "The Capitol of Gangland: El Salvador’s Struggle to Contain Gang Violence and The Importance of Judicial Reform for Democratic Development in Central America" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 318.