Living in Fear
Maria Esperanza and her 5-year-old twins, Carlos Antonio and Estrella Elizabeth, live under the threat of violence in El Salvador. (All names changed for protection.)
The family lives in a sleepy town near San Miguel in eastern El Salvador. About three years ago, gang members mistook Marcos, her husband and the twins' father, for someone they were after, and tried to kill him and extort $3,000 from the family. Unable to pay the demand with his $4-a-day income, Marcos fled to the U.S., where authorities detained him. The family lives in fear and without income for basic daily needs.
"(Before) we were poor, but we lived in peace," Maria says. "I really [just] want it to be like before. I want us to be together, even if we are poor."
In Maria's town, most of the 14,000 residents fear being robbed, held at gunpoint, threatened, extorted, or kidnapped. Even at home, families become targets as gang members call or leave notes in attempts to extort money.
The effects of the region-wide gang epidemic are spreading like wildfire throughout El Salvador and neighboring Guatemala and Honduras.
Central America had the world's second highest murder rate in 2012. Forty-one Salvadorans were killed for every 100,000 people. Guatemala registered 40 murders per 100,000. Honduras, by far the nation with the highest murder rate, tallied 90 murders per 100,000 people. In 2012, the U.S. murder rate was only about 5 per 100,000 people.
World Vision helps to protect children and create peace for innocent families like Maria's. Please pray with us for peace and transformation.
By Chris Huber and Heidi Isaza
Photo © 2012 Heidi Isaza / World Vision
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