MS-13 expander: ‘In the mara we are only afraid of God’

San Salvador.

Just a month ago Manuel (fictitious name) got out of jail and did it as a former member of the Salvadoran Salvatrucha, the MS-13, after a process of reflection that has led him to leave one of the bands most dangerous on the planet. “In the mara we only have fear of god“reveals.

Already before leaving prison, Manuel began to write his story by hand. Keep doing it today, also by hand, without a computer that facilitates you to put order in that torrent of words with which you want to tell a past that you assume, but to which you would not want to return.

Meanwhile, he agreed to tell Efe his way through the mara, but asked to reserve his identity. And it’s not strange, because neither in the MS-13 nor in any other organization of this type is the treason.

The man who tries to rebuild his life in Spain born in the civil war of The Savior, a hard fight that lasted twelve years, from 1980 to 1992.

Gang members of the Mara Salvatrucha prisoners in a maximum security prison in El Salvador.

Fleeing from her, many Salvadorans they settled in U.S -the “mecca of the gangs”, according to Manuel- and it was in this country where the maras MS-13 and M-18. Rivals were born and continue to be.

Manuel was born in 1982. His father’s family supported one side and that of his mother on the contrary. Nothing different from what happens in almost every civil wars.

Rejected by his father, who always denied being his father, Manuel still remembers the streets full of corpses “burned, quartered, machine-gunned“.” You get that landscape, you get to see it normal, “he acknowledges in his conversation with Efe. And he goes further:” the war teaches you hate”.

For ten years he was an only child. Then his brother was born and “my father pushed me aside,” he continues in his story.

Meanwhile, the then government Salvadoran recruited children (“the kidnapped“, believes Manuel) and trained them in the use of weapons “With twelve years they knew how to assemble or disassemble a rifle.” When their parents managed to rescue them, they sent them to U.S, “the country of dreams and freedom”, and there they created the maras (word that comes from marabunta).


But Manuel was still in The Savior. When he was ten years old, his father kicked him out of the house and became his uncle’s “lapdog,” a man who was war-hardened, a member of MS-13 and who accompanied him in the business of drug that entered Honduras since Colombia.

“My uncle wouldn’t let me into the mara, but I fell in love with her, “says Manuel, who was still very young, and because he was his nephew, he had money And he was respected. “The others had me fear“, remember.

Even so, his uncle did not want him to be “jumped”, that is, to make the leap to enter the MS-13 To enter, Manuel explains, it is necessary to overcome a cruel initiation rite. Once inside, highlight, you can only leave in two ways: “with your feet in front, that is dead, or turning to God”.

Things didn’t work out as well as he wanted. “They killed my love,” He laments. The mara herself did it. Fully engaged in illicit business, others tried to kill him. You had to get away.

And he did. He went to U.Sspecifically to California. He had to receive a relative, but it could not be. So he threw himself on the street and contacted the “click” (cell) of the MS-13 He began to earn a name.

Of course, he carried out some actions because he had to prove that he was qualified to “leap”.

He moved to Boston and worked in a brothel in cleaning work for 250 dollars per month, more tips. There he met a Salvadoran and to clients of the girls who were members of the mara. It was like “an apparition”, because I could finally feed the “bug” inside.


He was only 17 years old, but nobody sent him anymore. However – he continues his story – he had not yet been “jumped”, or what is the same, he was not a full member of the law MS-13

“This boy wanted his lyrics.” I wanted to tattoo the letters on my back M and S of the mara, because that is “what gives you power, respect, women ….”.

For it, We have to kill, and if it’s a member of the enemy band, the 18, better than better.

“He didn’t know how to crawl and wanted to run.” This is how Manuel metaphorically explains his wishes to become someone within the band.

He toured many “clicks”, including the New York Bronx. He was well involved and only thought of “feeding the beast”, that is, “in kill an 18 “.

All the “clicks” were small, but he came to the Houston, where more violence could be exercised because, in addition, there was Less police control.

His criminal activity was growing, to the point that in U.S the prosecution came to ask for him 100 years in jail for premeditated murder. He won the trial for lack of evidence and was in freedom.

He got out of prison but it was deported to your country, who would arrive, he thought, with all the honors. After all, he had won the lyrics.

However, in The Savior Violence rang freely. “There, killing was free,” Manuel says, and “there I was nobody.”

So he tried to live a more normal life, working in the morning and studying in the afternoon. He could even “buy” the title of one of the degrees. And at night “hesitated” with the mara under the “protection” of his uncle, who had been killed “200 shots”, but “still dead, he kept protecting me.”

Manuel had a daughter and met Father Toño, a Spanish priest who raised him. “Do you want to take your daughter by the hand to school or have your daughter take flowers to the pantheon?”

The priest helped him get the passports to travel to Spain. First Manuel did it and two months later his wife and 6-month-old daughter.

He could not stand that in the parish of the Chamartín neighborhood where he was received he was “prayed” and threw himself into the street to distribute publicity. It was then that he began to ask himself questions about his life and his future. “I realized that what I had done was not a game,” he emphasizes.

See: They qualify as terrorism anti-Semitic attack in New York

However, life led him back to the mara. It was by chance, but he met Salvadorans who lived in Spain and that they wanted to organize. Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Ibi, Madrid, Seville …. The MS-13 had extended its tentacles until Spain and acted until in 2014 it was practically dismantled by security forces after several previous police coups.

In one of them fell Manuel. Entered in prison and was classified as an inmate of special danger.

He separated from his wife and struggled to be classified in second grade, transferred to jail and allowed to do a paid job. He got it.

Then he went to third grade and today he is already in freedom. Keep writing because he wants that, beyond his history, that of a movement attached to the recent history of his country be known. EFE

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