EL SALVADOR ON ITS WAY TO BECOMING A DRUG-FREE NATION
Drugs and alcohol are the nucleus of the problems of the country,” Colonel Hugo Aristides Angulo Rogel says of El Salvador. He is referring to a level of violence unparalleled outside war zones—103 homicides per 100,000 residents as of 2015. Much of the violence was gang and drug trafficking related.
“We are in the middle of two markets—the countries in the south produce drugs and in the north they consume,” Angulo says.
In his 34 years as El Salvador’s longest-serving military officer, Angulo saw firsthand the damage of drugs and violence. In 2016, while working as a military attaché for the UN Permanent Mission of El Salvador in New York, he was introduced to Drug-Free World (DFW) by the Executive Director of DFW’s New York chapter.
Angulo had found his new weapon. “I needed another tool, something that would change the country,” he said. After becoming the Director of DFW El Salvador, he delivered his first DFW seminar at the Colonel Milton Andrade Military College and did interviews on YSKL 104.1 FM national radio and Televisión Canal 10.
“The gangs recruit young kids from the community, so my strategy was to educate the kids in schools,” says Angulo.
In Panchimalco, Angulo partnered with the Mayor and started delivery in their schools. Due to their own drug habits, students weren’t attending at one school, but after Angulo’s seminar, that changed. “We had high rates of absenteeism, but after the seminar they were so motivated, students returned and are improving their academic performance,” a teacher says.
Angulo has so far trained over 700 teachers to deliver the DFW program and reached more than 50,000 students in nine cities, with the plan now to implement the program in all schools of the country.
He then partnered with the San Salvador City Hall, Fundasalva (El Salvador Anti-Drug Foundation), FEPADE (Business Educational Development Foundation), the National Police and the Alberto Masferrer Salvadoran Dental University, who made DFW lessons a requirement for all incoming students.
After these programs, El Salvador’s murder rate was half of what it had been in 2015, which the Minister of Justice and Security credits to the “hard battle” against crime, prison rehabilitation measures and prevention programs in high-risk communities. Angulo can proudly say he was a major part of those prevention programs, and he is continuing his work with DFW to bring even greater positive change in El Salvador. See Angulo’s story at scientology.tv/HAngulo.
Help Stop Illicit Drug Abuse
Every year on June 26, we take action on United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, designed to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs.
On this day, Drug-Free World volunteers and chapters hit the streets to distribute The Truth About Drugs booklets and get locals to sign the Drug-Free Pledge. Volunteers also deliver seminars and do awareness campaigns in schools.
That is just one example of how Drug-Free World chapters everywhere can align their activities to international events and special days to raise public awareness.
All year round we call on all volunteers and supporters to join us in activities. You too can plan distribution and pledge-signing events in busy locations, put booklets into stores for their customers and anything else to get the truth about drugs to people.