As Polly and I ate breakfast this morning in our hotel here in Guatemala City, we read a troubling article in La Prensa newspaper about recent events in the neighboring country of El Salvador.
(You can read a similar article with some of the same information in English here AFP)
The statistics are shocking:
- In the past week there were 240 homicides, including 14 gang members massacred by an internal purge in gangs in a prison.
- In the past three days there were 125 murders.
- 3,332 people have died violently from January to July of this year compared to 2,191 in the same period last year.
- There are approximately 72 thousand gang members in the country, of which 13,000 are in prison.
That is headline news here but also should be headline news around the world, including in the United States.
Yet, it is my guess that most newspapers and broadcast news reports in the U.S. ignored the story. Unfortunately, Central America (as with the rest of Latin America) is largely off the radar screen of most people unless too many immigrants fleeing that carnage and the poverty and upheaval it leaves behind cross over into the U.S. seeking nothing more than a job and a peaceful place to live.
In fact, our attention is called only when political candidates totally misrepresent the people who enter the U.S. as criminals, rapists and lazy bums. Now, that makes the newspapers and the evening news.
What is disturbing is that we over emphasize sensational stories such as accidental airplane crashes, and under emphasize the stories of deliberate carnage that cause people to flee for their lives.
There have been several major air crashes this year, four of which involved more than 100 deaths. Following those incidents, CNN and other networks spent hours explaining the cause, showing video, analyzing with experts why they happened and how they could have been prevented.
Yet, the total deaths from those four major accidents total 581 people, while the death toll during the same time period in El Salvador was 3,332.
I see little analysis anywhere that examines the causes, explores ways to prevent the crisis, or offers solutions that are as humane and caring as those who work to prevent air accidents.
Since we will be flying tomorrow from Guatemala to the United States we certainly trust that our flight will be safe and that all precautions will be taken.
At the same time, we need to be deeply concerned about human tragedies such as thousands of deaths in El Salvador and the thousands more who seek a peaceful life elsewhere; the 3,000 migrants who cross from Greece to Macedonia every day; the more than 4,000 Rohingya migrants who have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar since the Thai government launched a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs; and the list goes on.
Maybe it’s about time that we begin to pay more attention to and pray for these poor souls who suffer from evil and hatred and seek peace found only in Jesus Christ.
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