The city of Santa Tecla has recently undergone a process of revitalization. It has become a place where people shop, play, and enjoy a sense of security unlike any other part of El Salvador. Paseo El Carmen has a dynamic nightlife, trhiving with restaurants to satisfy every taste and resounding with live music. The mayor´s initiatives in cleaning up the city and rebranding it as a cultural centre have been so successful that they are being imitated elsewhere in the country.
The revitalization of the city, however, comes with a cost. The cost is often invisible. Never mind the money that it is costing to implement the programs in place. I am talking about the people who are being pushed out of the city core and into the margins. The trendy restaurants and shops are not only meant to attract a certain crowd, the cameras are also meant to keep a certain crowd out. Yes, they might be would-be thieves, but if they are being dissuaded from targetting Paseo El Carmen, where are they now? What neighbourhoods have they been pushed to inadvertently?
This is precisely why it is imperative that measures aimed at making a site and a population more secure are accompanied with measures that aim to dissuade would-be criminals, rather than simply pushing them to the margins of the city. I certainly appreciate the efforts of the mayor to make the city more livable and more attrctive to tourists. However, investing in the local population is also an important initiative that will have the same, if not greater rewards.
This being said, it is definitely a step in the right direction. It is great to see how the arts are benefiting from the initiatives in Santa Tecla. It is great to see local business owners prosper. It is great to see local crafts being in such high demand. These are indeed indications that securitization alone cannot solve the issues of violence affecting the country, but a plan that involves the community and opens up opportunities for them is also imperative.