for Der Spiegel - COLD PARADISE
Text by Markus Feldenkirchen and Jens Glüsing in McAllen, Texas and La Ceira, Honduras
US Struggles with Wave of Underage Immigrants
Mareros is the name given to members of the Maras, the country's feared youth gangs. The gangs were formed during the 1990s in poor neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Chicago that were home to large Salvadoran populations. When the violence began escalating in those cities, US officials started deporting gang members to El Salvador. With a new base there, they began to spread across Central America. Today, they control the prisons, the drug trade and for a few years have also been making money through extortion that often comes in the form of what residents call the "war tax," which the gangs levy against people and businesses alike in what is no different than a mafia racket.
Carla Isabel Arzu lives with three siblings and her brother-in-law David Palacios in a house next to the Internet café. Until they fled, Olga and Daylan also lived here. The Arzus grew up in Colonia Miramar, where finding work was tough enough for everyone but even harder if, like the family, a person comes from the Afro-Honduran minority.
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