Extortion, even as small as $5, costs El Salvador $756 million every year
Extortion paid by business owners, often to criminal gangs, costs El Salvador $756 million every year, or 3% of its GDP.
Published| Photo by AP/Alex Peña
The cost of violence for the country, companies, and the population is $4 billion, including what is spent on healthcare and security.
Criminals can extort for as little as $5, $10, or $15, which adds up for workers who sometimes earn between $150 and $250 a month.
Business owners have to pay weekly or monthly bribes to the gangs that control the areas where they work. The main gangs are the MS-13 and the 18th Street.
El Salvador has some 60,000 gang members. Many victims of gang violence flee the Central American nation and seek refuge in Mexico, the US, and Canada.
The Trump administration recently proposed cutting aid to Mexico and Central American countries, including El Salvador.
Some of that money is used to fight the violence, poverty, and corruption that actually make people leave the region and migrate to the US.