In one of the world’s deadliest countries, a growing movement sees jobs for ex-gang members as the only way to end the violence

It was a scorching hot day when Carlos Fernando Argueta was interviewed for a job at a clothing factory in western El Salvador, but he still wore a long-sleeved shirt. The tattoos on his arms had cost him jobs before, tell-tale signs of his past life in the notoriously brutal Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang.

“Believe me, I’m very ashamed,” says Argueta, 39, who joined the gang when he was 12. “I know that we corrupted many hearts and minds. But if God has his arms open for people like us, then why can’t society give us a job opportunity?”

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