French filmmaker Poveda killed in El Salvador

September 4, 2009


SAN SALVADOR, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Suspected Salvadorean gang members killed French filmmaker Christian Poveda, whose 2008 film “La Vida Loca” crudely depicts the hopeless lives of members of the infamous Mara 18 street gang, local police said on Wednesday.

Poveda, 53, was shot on a road 10 miles (16 km) north of the capital of San Salvador, as he drove back from filming in La Campanera, a poor, overcrowded suburb and a Mara 18 stronghold.

President Mauricio Funes said in a statement on Wednesday night that he was “shocked” by Poveda’s murder and ordered a thorough investigation.

“La Vida Loca” (The Crazy Life) closely followed the lives of several heavily tattooed gang members, some of whom were jailed or killed during the shooting of the film.

Poveda first came to El Salvador in the early 1980s to cover the civil war that ravaged the poor Central American for over a decade. He returned after the armed conflict was over to cover street gangs.

The Mara 18 and rival Mara Salvatrucha gangs make up a huge criminal network that runs from Los Angeles, where a diaspora of Salvadoreans lives, down through chunks of Central America.

Authorities estimate there could be as many as 30,000 so-called mareros, who sell drugs, rob illegal migrants or extort businesses in the tiny country of just 5.7 million people.


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