As the 1990s began, the FMLN gained control of much of the countryside and showed their ability to carry out an effective armed struggle in the capital itself. In 1991, the United Nations began mediating negotiations between the Salvadoran government and the guerrilla forces. Guerrilla demands included a purging of the armed forces of those guilty of human rights violations and the integration of FMLN militants into either the armed forces or the police.
San Salvador, 1991: The Struggle Continues
The united people have not been defeated. The guerrilla army has fought the Salvadoran military to a standstill. Even though the Salvadoran military has received over four billion dollars in U.S. military and economic aid in the past decade, the FMLN and the popular organizations have something more important—the people.
More than seventy thousand civilians have been killed, the vast majority by government forces and right-wing death squads. The cost has been incredible, but the determination to continue the struggle is even more incredible. Liberated zones are everywhere.
El Salvador is awash in violence. Fifteen years after the end of a bloody civil war, the small Central American country has become notorious for its vicious street gangs, or maras, as they are called. Among the worst are the Mara 13 and Mara 18 which sell drugs, extort protection money and fight relentlessly for territory.
In Santa Anna, EL Salvador's second largest city, gang members are always on the lookout for new recruits. They pressure youth, many as young as 10, to participate in criminal activities and prove their worth as foot soldiers - or face the consequences.
Fear and economic pressures force many to become part of the gang life, setting them on a violent course that too often ends in jail time for capital crimes or tragic death.But an innovative organisation in Santa Ana, Barefoot Angels, has been battling for more than 10 years to shelter kids from violence and away from gang life.
Barefoot Angels staff run great risks, along with the children they help, and have witnessed dramatic results. Producers Steve Baum and Adam Raney documented Barefoot Angels' daily struggle for the hearts and souls of EL Salvador's youth.