Gangs in Milan

There is a strong tie between El Salvador and Italy. Back in the ’70s, during a time of dictatorships and wars, many people, especially women, form that torn country migrated to Europe to escape violence and find a better life. At that time Italy was much richer than Spain so most of those women ended up in Milan to work as housemaids in the homes of wealthy bourgeoisie families. After more than thirty years, the Salvadoran community in Milan is still among the biggest in Europe and those women have slowly made their relatives and kids join them.

Maras a MilanoAs a matter of fact integration for those who came as second and third generations with their counterparts in Italy has remained weak and many of those kids have embraced the models of the infamous gangs of Salvador known as Maras: the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha. Numbers and figures are obviously well far away to those of Salvador but Milan in recent years has become the capital of these gangs here in Europe. Not a case that the Italian Police in Milan has a specific department investigating crimes related to gang violence since the beginning of the millennium. In this reportage, commissioned by Internazionale and El Faro, I worked with journalist Roberto Valencia to investigate the effects of this phenomenon on the lives of the Salvadoran people here in my hometown.

The reportage was published on Internazionale in Italy, on El Faro in El Salvador, on BBC Mundo, on El Mundo in Spain and on Der Spiegel in Germany.