Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America

Overview

Sensational headlines have publicized the drug trafficking, brutal violence, and other organized crime elements associated with Central America's mara gangs, but there have been few clear-eyed analyses of the history, hierarchies, and future of the mara phenomenon. The first book to look specifically at the Central American gang problem by drawing on the perspectives of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America ...

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Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America

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Overview

Sensational headlines have publicized the drug trafficking, brutal violence, and other organized crime elements associated with Central America's mara gangs, but there have been few clear-eyed analyses of the history, hierarchies, and future of the mara phenomenon. The first book to look specifically at the Central American gang problem by drawing on the perspectives of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America provides much-needed insight.

These essays trace the development of the gangs, from Mara Salvatrucha to the 18th Street Gang, in Los Angeles and their spread to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua as the result of members' deportation to Central America; there, they account for high homicide rates and threaten the democratic stability of the region. With expertise in areas ranging from political science to law enforcement and human rights, the contributors also explore the spread of mara violence in the United States. Their findings comprise a complete documentation that spans sexualized violence, case studies of individual gangs, economic factors, varied responses to gang violence, the use of intelligence gathering, the limits of state power, and the role of policy makers.

Raising crucial questions for a wide readership, these essays are sure to spark productive international dialogues.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As this dense essay collection demonstrates, maras—organized Central American gangs whose raisons d'être are drug trafficking and violence—are widespread throughout Central America, appearing in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Mara organizations formed in Los Angeles and were introduced to Central America as the United States deported gang members to their native countries. Aimed at academics and politicians interested in Central American crime, the essays will still provide worthwhile information to intrepid, uninitiated readers, though this collection is sure to be a slow, complicated read. Bruneau (national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate Sch.), Lucía Dammert (executive director, Global Consortium on Security Transformation), and Elizabeth Skinner (think tank coordinator, Allied Command Transformation, NATO) organize the book into two parts, "Case Studies" and "Responses to Gang Violence," with discussions of the impact of maras on individual Central American countries. In addition, the authors suggest policy implications for government intervention. Finally, the book offers a thoughtful conclusion, "The Dilemma of Fighting Gangs in New Democracies," along with a detailed glossary and bibliography. VERDICT A significant read for a limited professional audience.—Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292729285
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Pages: 319
  • Sales rank: 981,449
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction
Thomas Bruneau

Part I. Case Studies
Chapter 1. The Origins of Southern California Latino Gangs
Al Valdez
Chapter 2. Street Gangs of El Salvador
Sonja Wolf
Chapter 3. Street Gangs of Guatemala
Elin Cecilie Ranum
Chapter 4. Street Gangs of Honduras
Joanna Mateo
Chapter 5. Street Gangs of Nicaragua
José Luis Rocha (translated from the Spanish by Michael Solis)

Part II. Responses to Gang Violence
Chapter 6. State Power and Central American Maras: A Cross-national Comparison
Enrique Desmond Arias
Chapter 7. Government Responses and the Dark Side of Gang Suppression in Central America
José Miguel Cruz
Chapter 8. Elite Membership and Sexualized Violence among Central American Gangs
Mauricio Rubio (translated from the Spanish by Michael Solis)
Chapter 9. The Use of Intelligence to Combat Maras
Clifford Gyves
Chapter 10. The Impact of U.S. Anti-gang Policies in Central America: Quo Vadis?
Florina Cristiana Matei

Conclusion: The Dilemma of Fighting Gangs in New Democracies
Thomas Bruneau and Lucía Dammert

Notes
Glossary
List of Acronyms
Bibliography
About the Contributors
Index

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