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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Introduction

Summary

We approached the corner store along a dusty side street of Puerto El Triunfo, El Salvador, 70 miles southeast of San Salvador. Guillermo leaned out the car window and asked a young man who was sweeping in front of the store for directions to 14th street. We were going to film an interview with a former packinghouse worker. The young man replied with equanimity, “here everything is 18th street,” referring to the Calle 18 gang. As we turned around and headed out of the neighborhood, I pondered how the high level of loyalty, legitimacy, and solidarity that several decades ago had been associated with the Sindicato de la Industria Pesquera (SIP: the fishing industry union) now belonged to the Calle 18 gang, which, in addition, commanded widespread fear.