Monday, November 22, 2010

Mara Salvatrucha in the Media

After writing my paper on the movie “Sin Nombre” I became curious about the gang Mara Salvatrucha 13 that is featured in the film, and how they are portrayed in the media and news. After searching all the recent news articles on the New York Times and Yahoo News websites I was slightly astonished with the limited mentions to the gang. There were two primary cases in the past couple years that went to court as a related to the gang’s activities. One of those cases was an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who killed a woman while she was jogging in a park in Washington DC ( This case took over 9 years to resolve after the woman’s disappearance. The other article was about a schoolyard shooting of three people in 2007, with one survivor who testified in court as a woman who was sexually assaulted, slashed with a machete and shot in the head, but still managed to escape. One of the men who was sentenced was an illegal immigrant and the other was a legal immigrant and the incident was suspected to be an initiation ritual. ( I found it interesting that both these cases involved women who were victimized by the gang and that illegal immigrants were involved. It reminded me of an aspect of my paper discussing the submissive role that women play in relation to the gang through the hyper masculine portrayal of the gang members. I am sure plenty of these cases of gang violence go unnoticed I am interested by the fact that the ones that are brought to court are instances of violence of males against females. Perhaps it is easier for a female victim to gain the sympathy of the jury if they are positioned as a weak subject of gang violence, as opposed to a male who might be seen as having being more able to defend himself or even having been part of sparking the conflict. Another interesting part of the article of the was the portrayal of the immigrants as dumb or slow. The description of DC murderer’s reaction to the verdict was very delayed due to his need to have everything translated and it seemed like a demeaning comment both on him and immigrants as a whole.

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