El Periodico

A 12-year-old Nicaraguan boy in Guatemala was forced to pay the ultimate price to preserve his principles and avoid being forcibly recruited by one of the country’s notoriously violent street gangs.

Ángel Ariel Escalante was pronounced dead on Saturday in Guatemala’s San Juan de Dios Hospital after suffering injuries from being thrown off a 410-foot bridge by gang leaders.

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The Nicaraguan boy reportedly refused to kill a bus driver as part of a gang initiation. As punishment, he was given a grim choice: death by dismemberment, or get thrown off a towering bridge spanning downtown Guatemala City. Escalante chose the latter.

But the youth survived the plunge when trees branches broke his fall. He suffered serious fractures to his skull and legs, and was rushed to the hospital in delicate condition. After clinging to life for two weeks, Escalante finally gave in to his fatal injuries on Saturday, according to Guatemalan daily El Periodico.

Guatemala’s two leading gangs, the Salvatrucha and the Barrio 18, make most of their money by extorting transportation companies and other small businesses in Guatemala.