It’s not a normal life. At least, it shouldn’t be. In El Salvador, teenage girls can’t walk to school or walk to the store alone or hang out with their friends because at any given moment they can be killed or disappeared.
In #15Girls, a new series by NPR, the terror-riddled lives of girls living in a gang-infested country are explored. During the first day of reporting, NPR saw the corpse of Marcela, a 15-year-old girl shot twice in the head in broad daylight on a street corner. The reason? She may have said no to being the girlfriend of a gang member.
Another girl, whose name could not be revealed in order to protect her, has been used as a bartering tool by her imprisoned gang member father. The ultimatum he gave the ex-wife, “if she doesn’t give him $50,000 when he gets out, he’ll have the girl raped and killed.”
It has become so incredibly violent that El Salvador has become “a country of girls with two main choices: Hide from gangs or give in to them” because “there is so much violence […] someone dies there, on average, every hour.”
Read or listen to Marcela, Aby and Mimi’s stories here.
The migration from Central America to the North isn’t as simple as people seeking out the American Dream. That is a beautiful fantasy, after all, but it’s not the whole truth. The reason people from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are leaving their country is because of the violence, and it’s also about so much more. It’s a matter of life and death. While murderers are responsible for countless senseless deaths, others are fleeing because of limited resources, and lack of necessary essentials.
Some Salvadorans, especially from poor communities, are fleeing their country because there’s a significant water shortage.
The water crisis in El Salvador isn’t something that just happened overnight. Researchers and organizations have been warning about this catastrophe in El Salvador for decades. The Salvadoran Humanitarian Aid, Research and Education Foundation (SHARE) group documented back in 2007 that impoverished communities demanded water rights in their areas. Most, if not all, of the main water, was going to private companies and being used by the top of society. The most impoverished people in El Salvador, which is a significant group, were being left with nothing. Now, a new study shows that there’s a deadline to the last drop.
New research shows that the entire country of El Salvador will be unhabitable in 80 years if the water crisis is not rectified.
The Defensa de Los Derechos Humanos (PDDH) released a study that showed the dire numbers which led to the government of El Salvador to declare a national emergency.
“According to the scientific analyzes carried out by different international organizations and analyzed in the present study, if we continue in this logic of deterioration, degradation of water goods in El Salvador, in 80 years life will be unfeasible in the country,” David Morales, head of the PDDH, said, according to EFE.
The water crisis seems to be the result of two factors: climate change and the privatization of water.
The National Geographic reports that after two major natural disasters, El Salvador struggled to recover. In 2014, the country suffered an exceptional drought which left “96,000 Salvadoran families without adequate food,” and millions more going hungry. The following year, El Niño brought even more dry weather.
“If we want to confront climate change, we first need to have strong governance,” Helga Cuéllar-Marchelli, director of the department of social studies at the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES) told the National Geographic. “We need a joint effort from the central government, municipal governments, civil society, [and] the business sector. If there is no legal framework, it will be very difficult to coordinate efforts.”
The water crisis is forcing members of poor communities to walk for miles to get water from wells only to find there might not be any there for them.
The “natural” water that is available for poor people isn’t safe to use because it’s contaminated, but because they have no other choice, they use it anyway.
The publication reports that sewer water that carries intense contamination levels goes straight into natural water, including streams and rivers. It is this water that people use to drink, wash their clothes and bathe. More than 90 percent of this natural water is toxic, and an estimated 6.4 million people are using this contaminated water.
Early this year, people from El Salvador marched for water rights and people on social media used the hashtag #NoAlaPrivatizacionDelAgua.
The protest, led by students, feminists, and advocates of water rights, were also met with pushback from police forces.
The World Bank reports that local farmers and people trying to survive with their own crops are the ones that are facing this major crisis. Salvadorans aren’t the only ones affected either, but neighboring countries as well.
“More than half a million families are suffering from what experts call ‘food insecurity,’ – in other words, the lack of food – due to agricultural and livestock losses. According to estimates by Central American governments, Oxfam and other international aid agencies, 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are already facing this situation.”
Jess Ofelia Alvarenga, an independent reporter, documented how her family, is dealing with the water crisis in El Salvador.
This summer she filmed the struggle her uncle faces with the lack of water. She says he can no longer harvest rice or watermelons. It is this lack of water that is forcing thousands to move to El Salvador’s metropolitan areas, which already has a scarcity of water for the low-income, or flee the country altogether.
UPDATE: Earlier this week an inmate went viral for his unusual attempt to escape prison disguised as his daughter. On Tuesday, Aug. 6, Clauvino da Silva was found dead in his cell by apparent suicide, according to CNN.
Below is the story of how da Silva attempted to escape prison before his death…
Some things you just cannot make up.
Recently in Brazil, a gang leader attempted the tricky feat of escaping prison via some pretty lofty means: impersonating his own teenage daughter. To prepare for his attempt, da Silva, also known as Baixinho — or Shorty, attempted to pass guards at the Bangu prison complex in Rio de Janeiro wearing an actual silicone mask and wig.
Officials recently released photos of da Silva and pretty much everyone is confused about how he thought this would work.
Da Silva wore a silicone mask, glasses, a long black wig, jeans and a pink T-shirt decorated with a print of donuts to make his escape.
In a video released by Rio de Janeiro’s state secretary of prison administration, da Silva can be seen slowly taking off his disguise before saying his real name. According to authorities, his elaborate escape attempt was foiled after prison guards picked up on his nervous behavior.
According to Buzzfeed, da Silva, 42, is currently serving a 73-year sentence for drug trafficking. The gang leader worked for the Red Command, one of Brazil’s most powerful drug trafficking criminal groups. Officials say that since his thwarted prison break, da Silva has been transferred to a unit of a maximum-security prison where he is due to face disciplinary sanctions.
It’s not the first time da Silva has made an attempt with his daughter’s help.
Back in 2013, Brazilian news site Globo reported that he had successfully escaped prison. At the time, da Silva operated on a plan that allowed him to stroll out of the prison’s main door as his daughter remained in his cell.
Looks like a 73-year jail sentence can really inspire a person to get creative.
Also pretty sure that mask would have any daughter insulted.
The reaction on Twitter, of course, has been downright gold.
Perhaps a better budget would have seen da Silva far away and free from the gates of prison.
As of now, nearly everyone who has read this story has their fingers crossed that this story will inspire a movie.
Basically, everyone’s rallying for this to be the inspiration for the White Chicks 2 film.
Like so many references to White Chicks.
And all of this time we thought no one could have done a mask worse.
As far as the court of popular opinion goes, da Silva’s verdict is:
Scooby-Doo did it better.
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