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The murder rates in Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala over the past decade put these countries at the top of the world tables for violence. As many die on their streets as in Iraq or Afghanistan. A war is going on – that nobody talks about.
Crime runs from the top of the ladder, where the drug cartels use their economic and political weight against the state, right down to the neighbourhood gangs that are frequently controlled by two large rival groups, the Mara Salvatrucha and the 18. Violence has its roots in social inequality and exclusion. "Crossed Pens" wanted to turn the spotlight on Central America, this "black hole", as Chappatte puts it.
With the help of the Swiss Embassy in Guatemala City, Chappatte brought together fellow cartoonists from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala for an event entitled "Violence and corruption" in March 2012. This comprised a professional workshop with expert input, a roving exhibition and a public round-table discussion. A wall calendar
was produced that was widely distributed by the Swiss Embassy to NGOs and schools in the three countries.The Swiss dimension
In March 2013 two events were held that brought the situation in Central America to the attention of the Swiss public. In Geneva the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights organised a special evening at which the documentary film "Alma", the confessions of a former gangster, was shown to a full house. This was followed by a discussion with the cartoonists Fo (Guatemala), McDonald (Honduras) and Alecus (El Salvador), moderated by Chappatte. At the same time, in Morges, the Maison du dessin de presse (Editorial Cartoon Museum) presented an exhibition by 12 political cartoonists from Central America.