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A gang member showing off his tattoos
A gang member showing off his tattoos

SAN SALVADOR — Crime-ridden El Salvador is having a particularly bloody year. Facing the power of the "Mara" street gangs, the Central American country has already counted a "record" 4,427 homicides from January to Sept. 8, the country's Institute of Legal Medicine, or state coroners, has reported.

The figure was expected to top 5,000 by the end of 2015, though it already exceeded the total murders of each of the past six years, leading online newspaper elsalvador.com reports. Before 2015, the recent years with most murders were 2009, with a total of 4,382 criminal killings, and 2011, with 4,371.

The country saw its daily murder rate fall from double digits to below 10 a day for most of 2012-13, after public personalities helped negotiate a precarious truce between the two main gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and M-18.

Killings, whose victims are presumed to be mostly gang members, shot back up as the truce gradually broke down in 2013. In August, the average number of people killed every day nationwide was about 29, another local daily El Mundo reported, citing the Institute of Legal Medicine.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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