|06SANSALVADOR1352||2006-05-23 15:32:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy San Salvador|
VZCZCXYZ0000 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHSN #1352 1431532 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 231532Z MAY 06 FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2552 INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE RUEAHLC/HQ DHS WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001352
1. (C) SUMMARY: The citizens of El Salvador are outraged by
numerous murders occurring daily in this country. Police
Director Avila is trying to professionalize his police force,
but he lacks sufficient manpower and equipment. Yesterday,
President Saca announced that his administration will seek
additional funding for the police, principally to reduce the
murder rate. Unfortunately, ARENA needs the support of the
FMLN to raise sufficient funds. It remains to be seen if the
old adversaries can cut a deal. If not, the daily homicides
will continue unabated. End Summary.
2. (C) The daily murder rate in El Salvador is beginning to
border on the incredible. Local newspapers have begun to
report homicides in the number of hours in which they occur,
e.g., "Eight homicides in six hours". As of May 1, 1,143
individuals have been murdered in calendar year 2006 -- 55
more than last year over the same period. Last week,
citizens marched in the streets demanding an end to the
violence. Despite positive steps taken by the police, the
general public is outraged by the lack of public security.
3. (C) Although hindered fiscally, President Saca responded
to the public outcry by appointing Rodrigo Avila as Police
Director (Reftel A). Since resuming command of the police in
January, Avila has fired bad cops, promoted goods ones, and
improved morale by using his public persona to promote the
police in the media. Unfortunately, these positive steps
towards greater professionalism have had little impact in the
short run. In private, Avila concedes that he presently
cannot provide adequate public security without more manpower
and greater resources. He has publicly requested an infusion
of US$50 to $60 million for police operations and equipment.
4. (C) On May 15, President Saca announced that his
administration will seek additional funding for the police,
principally to reduce the murder rate. Saca did not mention
how much he will ask for, nor when he will make the request.
Rather, he coyly noted that increased funding depends on "the
financial capacity of the State." The remark was clearly a
nod towards the FMLN, who after recent national elections,
now have the capacity to block the two-thirds supermajority
legislation required to fund Avila's request. (Reftel B and
C). (Note: The most likely method of raising US$60 million
is by issuing bonds or reprograming IFI loans. The
Salvadoran Constitution requires a legislative two-thirds
supermajority to authorize the assumption of debt. End Note.).
5. (C) COMMENT: The Saca administration is clearly feeling
the heat from the public outrage on this issue. In order to
fund crime legislation that could achieve an appreciable
reduction in the daily murder rate, the administration is
faced with the unsavory task of negotiating with the FMLN.
Unfortunately, it remains to be seen if the bitter
adversaries can cut a deal. If not, El Salvador is sure to
widen its lead over Colombia in the race to have the highest
murder rate in the Western Hemisphere. (Reftel D). Post
will keep the Department informed of the administration's
efforts to achieve meaningful crime legislation and adequate
funding for the police.