Crime at Sea



Watching the local fishermen along El Salvador’s Pacific coast, one soon realizes the many uncertainties they live with on a daily basis.  They must be attentive to tides, weather conditions, boat/motor/net repairs, marketing their catch, as well as sustaining their families during periods when the fish don’t bite.

Recently a new concern joins the frightening list of fishermen’s worries – threat to their physical safety at sea and possible confiscation of their vessels.  Criminals with “big guns” are ambushing the local fishermen out in the water while they fish.

These criminals bully the fishermen by stealing their motors, gasoline, and, yes, even their boats.  The fisherman we support with a micro-loan, Juan, tells us his neighbor was a recent victim.  We’ve heard the story from two other sources before we meet Juan to ask him how the situation is affecting his own area.

He reports the most common time for the ambushes to occur is at night when the fishing is best for the locals.  The criminals have a better chance of escaping undetected and unidentified at night.  It is a conundrum for the poor fisherman: Do they only fish the area during the day when they are safer or do they risk going out at night when they can gain a better catch yet risk the possibility of encountering criminals who might pursue and rob them?  It’s a tough call.



Fishermen are not the sole targets of these unscrupulous bandits at sea.  El Salvador has become famous for a local beach soccer team which has achieved international renown in competitions.  One day this team took a leisurely boat ride up the coast and found themselves prey to a group of criminals who demanded their boat.  Fortunately these guys are in top physical condition and were all able to swim to shore.  Their boat was discovered several days later.

Our fisherman friend, Juan, and his two sons sometimes fish 20-25 kilometers off-shore at night.  Swimming back to shore would not be a viable option at that distance.



These local fishermen have asked local authorities for protection.  They are not receiving satisfactory responses.  Meanwhile, they are banning together to protect one another.  They now go out in groups rather than individually.


    Afflicted with Hope / is one of many outreach ministries at
    Saint Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA)
    30 West Main Street, PO Box 266
    New Kingstown, PA 17072

    Tax deductible donations for support of this work in El Salvador may be sent to the above address.