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“Why Don’t They Kill Them All?”: Interlude #1

SAN SALVADOR—We stopped for lunch at the food court at the large and modern mall in San Salvador. Over the last six years or so I have spent far more time at the mall in El Salvador than I have in the States in the last twenty. The group perused the options, many of them the same, some local, and most went to a Salvadoran steak stall. I chose another one called Los Tipicos, ordered a taco plate and fell into conversation with the manger. He was a heavy set man, sweaty from working the grill and spoke good English. He looked down the way at the rest of our group, asked why we were here and where we were from. I told him the group was from the United States but then stated confidently, “But you are a German.” I let him think so for some reason as it seemed it made me somehow worth talking to.

 “There are so many poor,” he said, “The government takes all the money. The money. Millions of dollars, it does come.” He made a flat cutting line with his hand, “But all the millions go to the rich. They say there are 20,000 gang members. I stand up to them, why can’t the government, Just…” He grasped the air, an imaginary submachine gun in his hand, made the stuttering noise of one and sprayed imaginary bullets.

 hen he shrugged, “Why don’t they? Kill them all?” He shrugged again, “They have their money. Enjoy your lunch. It’s the same meat your friends are getting at the other place but we charge less. A fair price.”

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