CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt extended state of exception and Congress remained paralysed, impeding anti-corruption efforts. 

Authorities again renewed tough security measures. Executive 1 Jan renewed state of exception for ninth time until 15 Feb amid continued concern about measure’s impact. Violence against women remained particularly acute. Notably, human rights secretary Natalia Roque and UN Coordinator in Honduras Alice Shackelford 10 Jan expressed particular concern over impunity in femicide cases following discovery previous day of bodies of three women on Honduran island, Roatán. Meanwhile, Colonel Ramiro Muñoz 16 Jan announced closure of three prisons – La Esperanza, Trujillo and Cortés – due to “deplorable conditions”, said inmates would be transferred to other prisons. 

Legislature remained blocked, damaging anti-corruption efforts. Congressional paralysis continued amid dispute between govt and opposition over appointment of Attorney General. NGO Human Rights Watch 2 Jan warned developments are “a bad omen” for efforts to tackle corruption. Meanwhile, Honduras 8 Jan extradited govt official Francisco Roberto Cosenza Centeno to U.S. on money laundering charges.

December 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Institutional crisis persisted amid Congressional paralysis, and violence remained high despite state of exception.

Legislature remained blocked amid divides over appointment of officials. Parliament closed 2023 amid four months of congressional paralysis, during which no laws were passed, including 2024 budget. Ruling Libre party took advantage of situation to appoint more officials through controversial Congressional Permanent Commission, comprising eight pro-govt and one opposition legislator. Though opposition parties insisted govt’s appointments were illegal, actions appeared to push former toward compromise: notably, opposition National Party 7 Dec announced it was close to agreement with Libre party over members of Supreme Chamber of Accounts, body that oversees public finances. Crisis continued to hinder progress on creation of UN-led anti-corruption commission (CICIH); govt and UN 18 Dec extended memorandum for CICIH’s creation until June 2024.

Stringent security measures failed to slow violence. Despite state of emergency, new data showed that violence and crime still plague country. Notably, NGO Observatory of Violence 6 Dec reported 27% increase in multiple homicides in 2023 compared with 2022; Association for a Just Society 12 Dec reported 11% of citizens are victims of extortion; and violence against women remained acute, with UN body CEPAL 2 Dec reporting one woman is murdered every 21 hours.

November 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Appointment of temporary Attorney General fuelled political tensions, and govt extended state of exception for eighth time.

Selection of new Attorney General sparked political crisis. Tensions over selection of new Attorney General spiked after Congressional Permanent Commission, formed of eight pro-govt and one opposition legislator, 1 Nov appointed Johel Zelaya to act as interim chief prosecutor. Move triggered controversy as many deemed commission, appointed by legislative president and ally of President Castro, Luis Redondo, bypassed legislative debate. Opposition criticised appointment as power grab and 11 Nov organised protest in capital Tegucigalpa. Despite promising not to carry out “selective persecution”, Zelaya 9 Nov removed several investigative and former opposition judicial officials. Civil society, private sector and international community condemned irregular naming of Attorney General, with U.S. 7 Nov announcing Honduras would not receive certain funds, citing failure to combat corruption.

Govt extended stringent security measures. Govt 21 Nov announced extension of state of exception until Jan 2024. Police 13 Nov claimed it had arrested 1,895 people, including over 700 from Barrio 18 and MS-13 gangs, since state of exception began Dec 2022. Meanwhile, security minister 8 Nov announced seizure of 48,600 doses of fentanyl hidden in container in Puerto Cortes, Cortes department (north), amid concerns of stepped-up drug production in Honduras.

In other important developments. President of main opposition National Party David Chávez Madison 28 Nov fled arrest after police prevented him from boarding flight to U.S.; same day, judge ordered Chávez’s arrest in fraud case, which Chávez denies.

October 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Institutional crisis over Attorney General’s appointment continued, and govt extended state of exception for seventh time.

Congress remained paralysed over selection of new Attorney General. Ruling Libre Party and opposition National Party continued to disagree on candidate for Attorney General, prolonging legislative paralysis. Opposition, who have blocked govt’s choice for new Attorney General in response to amnesty law they claim benefits Libre party, 12 Oct accused Castro administration of using justice system to harass opposition and manipulate selection process; accusation came after anti-corruption unit 11 Oct indicted former presidents Juan Orlando Hernández and Porfirio Lobo (both from National Party) on fraud charges. Crisis hindered progress on creation of UN-led anti-corruption commission.

Stringent security measures remained in place as authorities lauded impact. Govt 6 Oct announced extension of state of exception until 17 Nov, with authorities claiming period Jan-Oct saw 2,306 homicides, down from 2,761 in same period in 2022. Military police commander Ramiro Fernando Muñoz 11 Oct announced that after three months of special measures, prisons (where criminal groups often coordinate their activities) were “no longer a problem”; experts said strategy of splitting gangs into different prisons appeared effective. Concerns about criminality and violence continued, however. Notably, Human Rights Commission report 8 Oct decried high levels of violence and impunity against women and environmental activists, while UN rapporteur on freedom of expression 27 Oct warned that violence and judicial harassment against activists and journalists is “alarmingly high”.

September 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Country faced institutional crisis over vacant Attorney General role, and govt defended tough security measures.

Constitutional and political crisis continued over vote for new Attorney General. Ruling Libre Party and opposition National Party failed to agree on candidate to replace Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla, whose mandate ended 31 Aug. Opposition have blocked Libre’s choice in response to passing of controversial amnesty law that they claim benefits members of ruling party and persecutes opposition; govt, meanwhile, accuses National Party of preventing appointment to protect themselves from possible future criminal charges. Libre 7 Sept appointed Secretary of Parliament Carlos Zelaya to lead negotiations with opposition, who announced Congress would convene only after agreement on issue; some opposition congress members 27 Sept warned legislative paralysis could continue into 2024. Meanwhile, Chinchilla 1 Sept left Honduras for Nicaragua amid corruption allegations.

Stringent security measures remained in place. Amid ongoing state of exception, authorities 6 Sept claimed period June-Sept saw 40% reduction of homicides compared to same period in 2022; police data, however, showed multiple-homicides (where at least 3 people are killed in one incident) increased by 34% compared with same period in 2022. Meanwhile, military police commander Ramiro Fernando Muñoz 10 Sept declared civil society would soon be able to verify human rights situation inside prisons, which have been under military control since June, and acknowledged allegations of abuses levelled against his agents; Muñoz also warned that there are no effective rehabilitation programs in place as prisons are under reconstruction.

August 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt renewed state of emergency for sixth time, while Congress continued work toward establishment of anti-corruption body.

Stringent anti-gang measures remained in place. After enforcing night-time curfew in San Pedro Sula city (Cortés department) early July, authorities 10 Aug implemented further security measures, deploying 500 police officers throughout city as well as plainclothes unit and unmarked cars. Authorities took similar measures in other areas, including Olancho department (centre). Military police, meanwhile, 4 Aug announced its mano dura approach in penitentiary system would continue despite concerns about rights violations. Authorities 7 Aug claimed national homicide rate had decreased by 44% since state of exception came into effect Dec 2022 and 20 Aug extended measure for sixth time.

Efforts to enable creation of anti-corruption commission continued. Congress 2 Aug repealed further decrees that protected its members from prosecution for corruption; Secretary of Parliament Carlos Zelaya 6 Aug said Congress had completed all necessary steps for establishment of International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity.

Constitutional crisis loomed over blocked vote for new Attorney General. National Party, main opposition group in Congress, 22 Aug prevented vote to replace incumbent Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla, whose mandate ended 31 Aug; move was in response to passing of controversial amnesty law that National Party claim benefits members of ruling party while persecuting the opposition; President Castro 11 Aug and 29 Aug organised national protest to demand Congress proceed with vote.

July 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Castro administration enforced more punitive policies in response to latest wave of violence; UN experts arrived amid stepped-up anti-corruption efforts.

Govt renewed state of emergency amid growing criticism. Govt continued to pursue tough security measures after June deadly prison riot and mass killings, with military police placed in charge of penitentiary system, deployment of soldiers in hotspots and restrictions on movement; in Cortés department (north west), night-time curfew in San Pedro Sula city began 4 July following similar measures late June in nearby Choloma city. Govt 5 July extended state of emergency for additional 45 days, prompting criticism. Notably, president of Union of Small Enterprises 5 July said curfews put 25,000 jobs at risk, while UN human rights office 7 July said militarisation of public security was detrimental to fundamental rights, drawing particular attention to reports of violence perpetrated by military police against prison inmates.

Momentum for creation of anti-corruption commission grew. Team of UN experts 9 July arrived to provide technical assistance for establishment of International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity (CICIH); mission will remain in country for six months. Civil society groups continued to urge govt to approve reforms established by UN before CICIH starts operating. In significant step, Congress 12 July repealed decrees known as “Impunity Pacts”, which granted its members protection from prosecution for corruption.

June 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Fighting broke out between rival gangs at women’s prison, leaving dozens dead and triggering military takeover; anti- corruption efforts continued.

Armed forces seized control of prisons following deadly riot. Riot 20 June at women’s prison in Tamara town, Francisco Morazán department (centre), left at least 46 people dead; reports said prisoners belonging to Barrio 18 gang attacked cell block housing rival MS-13 gang, burning, hacking and shooting victims. President Castro said riot was planned by gangs with “knowledge and acquiescence of security authorities” and fired security minister, replacing him with National Police head Gustavo Sánchez. In step away from promises to put civilian police in charge of penal system, govt same day placed all prisons under control of military for one year. Meanwhile, violence continued throughout country despite state of emergency, due to end or be extended on 5 July. Notably, unidentified gunmen 15 June killed environmental activist in Tocoa, Colón department (north); govt 25 June announced night-time curfews in Choloma and San Pedro Sula cities, both Cortés department (north west), following spate of violent incidents that killed 22 people previous day.

Anti-corruption efforts continued despite concerns. Govt and UN 16 June extended memorandum of understanding, aimed at supporting establishment of International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity (CICIH), until Dec 2023. Despite progress, experts and politicians continued to stress CICIH would prove futile unless Congress repeals decrees granting members of Congress immunity.

In another important development. After cutting diplomatic relations with Taiwan and formally establishing relations with China in March 2023, govt 11 June opened embassy in Chinese capital Beijing during Castro’s 9-14 June state visit.

May 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Authorities extended state of exception amid mounting scepticism of measure and high levels of violence; efforts to install anti-corruption body continued at slow pace.

Insecurity persisted, notably targeting women, LGBT+ community and journalists. Despite growing opposition to state of exception, govt 20 May extended measure until 5 July as director of police continued to tout impact. Violence continued, however, with 957 murders recorded in 2023 and extortion still prevalent. Number of recent reports illustrated that women, LGBT+ people and journalists particularly targeted: newspaper Proceso 9 May reported 130 femicides 6 Dec-30 April; LGBT+ organisation Cattrachas 7 May said 194 members of community killed 2017-2022, with convictions in only 13 cases; human rights commissioner 2 May said 97 journalists killed since 2001.

Anti-corruption efforts progressed slowly. UN and govt 4 May announced impending arrival of international experts to help install International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity (CICIH); preparations still under way by end of month. Congress continued to block legal reforms required in memorandum of understanding with UN, which could overshadow progress to establish CICIH; among opponents is opposition National Party, which 2 May accused govt of moulding CICIH procedures in ruling Libre party’s interests.

April 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Wave of violent incidents prompted govt assessment of prison conditions; NGO said Honduras and its neighbours faced “extreme” levels of violence.

Eruption of prison riots prompted govt to assess prison conditions. Riots 8 April broke out in four prisons, including in capital Tegucigalpa and Tamara National Penitentiary, injuring twelve inmates and killing one. Some reports suggested riots were motivated by poor conditions, including increased prison population, lack of food and limited hygiene supplies. Castro 11 April asked Undersecretary of Security Julissa Villanueva to create intervention plan for prisons, who 18 April set out ten key points intervention will address, including obtaining and digitising number of inmates, vetting prison staff, and separating sentenced inmates from pre-trial detainees. Following day, shooting at prison in Ilama municipality, Santa Barbara department wounded seven prisoners.

NGO decried region’s “war-like” levels of violence. State of exception continued after President Castro late March renewed measure for additional six months, despite uncertainty within govt about its impact. Meanwhile, head of NGO Norwegian Refugee Council 24 April said Honduras and other Central American countries are experiencing “war-like” levels of violence. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 28 April expressed concern about high levels of violence, with criminals notably targeting women and environmentalists.

March 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt expressed doubt about state of exception’s utility amid continued violence and established diplomatic relations with China.

Although police claimed decrease in homicides, violence continued. Amid state of exception, extended in Feb until April to tackle extortion but which so far has yielded few results, former President Porfirio Lobo 5 March called for “Bukele-style” policy to improve outcomes, referring to El Salvador’s heavy-handed tactics to tackle gangs. National police 17 March published graph showing decrease in homicides, allegedly due to measure. Violent incidents continued, however. Notably, unknown assailants 4 March killed six in Comayagüela city; armed men 6 March killed nine in Comayagua city. President Castro 7 March lashed out at high-ranking security officials, criticising their failure to prevent violence despite state of exception, signalling govt’s uncertainty about whether to rely on measure to tackle insecurity.

Govt established diplomatic ties with China. Castro 14 March instructed FM Reina to establish diplomatic relations with China, citing, among other things, hope for more aid; Taiwan same day warned that Honduras could fall into China’s debt trap, disguised as selfless aid. Honduras 25 March formally established diplomatic ties with China and severed them with Taiwan.

In other important developments. U.S. court 28 March sentenced Herlinda Bobadilla, leader of Montes Bobadilla trafficking clan, to 20 years in prison on drug trafficking charges.

February 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Congress elected new Supreme Court magistrates, and govt extended state of emergency until April.

Lawmakers elected new Supreme Court judges. After four failed attempts, Congress 16 Feb elected 15 magistrates who will comprise Supreme Court for next seven years. As in previous elections, lawmakers voted for judges politically aligned with their own party; ruling Libre party secured six seats, National Party five and Liberal Party four. With no party able to secure majority of justices, process marked step toward creation of checks and balances. UN and international mission sent to observe selection 17 Feb praised it as step forward compared with previous processes, but expressed concerns about imposition of political quotas. Honduras’ Saviour Party, which played crucial role in President Castro’s electoral victory, 16 Feb dismissed election as “partisan-driven” amid deepening divide with govt.

Govt extended state of emergency. Head of Police Gustavo Sánchez 7 Feb said state of emergency, first imposed in Dec 2022 to tackle extortion, had reduced average number of homicides per day from nine in 2022 to seven so far in 2023. Authorities 21 Feb confirmed its extension by 45 days and expansion to 48 other municipalities across country.

U.S. prosecutors revealed details in corruption case of former president. Following first anniversary of former President Hernández’s detention, U.S. prosecutors 10 Feb said Honduras’ powerful Rosenthal family had bribed him to facilitate their money-laundering and drug-trafficking activities.

January 2023

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt extended state of emergency amid efforts to tackle extortion, and congress failed to elect new Supreme Court members.

Govt extended and expanded state of emergency. After govt imposed state of emergency in Dec 2022 to tackle apparent rise in extortion, Honduran Press Secretariat 7 Jan announced extension by 45 days and expansion to 73 other municipalities across country. Head of Police Gustavo Sánchez 3 Jan said police had dismantled 38 criminal gangs, apprehended 652 gang members and served 717 arrest warrants and that this had been done with “no complaints of human rights violations”. Meanwhile, shoot-out between security forces and gang members 30 Jan left one police officer dead in capital Tegucigalpa.

First attempt to elect Supreme Court members failed. Nominating Board 23 Jan published list of 45 candidates for election of new Supreme Court members, from which Congress elects 15 members. Political tensions simmered ahead of 25 Jan vote since court members are often elected along party lines. Notably, both ruling Libre party and opposition National Party throughout Jan accused each other of planning violent mobilisations on day of election. Congress 25 Jan failed to elect new Supreme Court members; unclear when Congress will convene for new vote, which must occur before 11 Feb deadline.

December 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

State of exception came into effect in two cities marked by high levels of violence; govt and UN agreed on memorandum for next phase of international anti-corruption body.

Govt imposed state of exception in some areas of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Amid mounting pressure to combat apparent rise in extortion, President Castro 3 Dec signed executive decree imposing state of exception on 162 neighbourhoods in capital Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula city for one month, starting 6 Dec; authorities 6 Dec announced deployment of 20,000 security forces to ensure compliance. State of exception can be extended by Congress and suspends citizen’s freedoms of movement and assembly. Security minister 13 Dec announced that since govt had introduced measure, extortion had fallen by 40% and 228 gang members had been arrested. Shoot-out between security forces and gang members 19 Dec left two people dead, including one military police officer, in La Peña neighbourhood of Tegucigalpa. Police 29 Dec called for measure’s extension to several other cities.

Govt and UN signed memorandum to establish UN-backed anti-corruption body. Castro 14 Dec met with UN Sec-Gen António Guterres to discuss International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, next day signed memorandum of understanding on phases toward its establishment. Opposition National Party 10 Dec demanded that UN fully fund commission amid fears that govt funding could compromise commission’s independence.

November 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Rising extortion rates prompted govt to declare national emergency; discussions over election of Supreme Court members inflamed political frictions.

Govt declared national emergency amid mounting levels of extortion. Supreme Court president 4 Nov said establishment of UN-backed International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras will not be enough to curb increasing rates of violent crime if national institutions are not strengthened. Head of Council for Private Enterprise 14 Nov said extortion was “getting out of hand” and called on authorities to intervene. Head of Police Gustavo Sánchez 24 Nov released plan to tackle extortion and President Castro same day declared national security emergency, announcing measures such as border militarisation and bank controls to “eradicate extortion”. Sánchez 25 Nov said operations will initially focus on 120 neighbourhoods in capital Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, two most populous and violent cities.

Efforts to elect new Supreme Court aggravated political tensions. Amid brewing political crisis, which emerged mid-Oct after ruling party Libre announced alliance with Honduras’ Saviour Party (PSH) had broken down, political debate largely centred on election of new Supreme Court members. Nominating committee tasked with selecting candidates 1 Nov published list of 185 candidates for 2023-2030 term, trimmed down to 105 on 18 Nov. Committee has until mid-Jan to forward list of 45 candidates to National Congress, which in turn elects 15 members. Former President and Libre coordinator Manuel Zelaya 11 Nov acknowledged that selection of Court justices is guided by political interests and announced negotiations with opposition National Party on distribution of Supreme Court seats between each party; VP and head of PSH Salvador Nasralla same day insisted on PHS participation in any negotiations. Leader of National Party, Tomás Zambrano, 14 Nov said Libre had not shown willingness to negotiate in good faith.

October 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Alliance between ruling Libre party and Honduras’ Saviour Party reportedly fell apart, insecurity persisted, and efforts to establish international anti-corruption body proceeded at slow pace.

Ruling alliance reportedly broke down. Political frictions surfaced after former President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, coordinator of ruling Libre party, 14 Oct announced alliance between Libre and Honduras’ Saviour Party (PSH), which helped Xiomara Castro win 2021 presidential election, had “broken down”. Although alliance had shown fractures since Oct 2021 formation, VP and head of PSH Salvador Nasralla had recently been criticising govt more frequently and publicly for bypassing him in executive decisions, leading to 14 Oct announcement. Gilberto Ríos, leader of Libre, 15 Oct blamed U.S. embassy in Honduras for collapse, claiming it was working with Nasralla to break alliance. Much-weakened coalition in Congress could threaten govt’s ability to push through legislation.

High levels of violence persisted, notably targeting journalists and women. Gunmen 10 Oct shot dead journalist Edwin Josué Andino and his father in capital Tegucigalpa, marking fifth journalist killed in 2022; police next day said crime was planned by organised criminal structures. Reports 22 Oct emerged that 18th Street gang members had forced at least 20 families in Villa Nueva neighbourhood of Tegucigalpa to flee after receiving dead threats. Meanwhile, local feminist organisation “Visitación Padilla” Women’s Movement for Peace 24 Oct called on govt to declare national emergency after reports emerged that 13 women had been killed across country previous week.

Negotiations to establish anti-corruption body continued at slow pace. MPs from Libre, National and PSH parties 19 Oct formed multiparty front in support of establishing UN-backed International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (CICIH), for which negotiations have been proceeding at slow pace. Chancellor Enrique Reina 26 Oct said govt had received new memorandum draft from UN.

September 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Amid govt’s efforts to tackle crime and strengthen rule of law, deadly attacks continued, notably targeting lawyers.

Criminal violence continued, notably targeting lawyers. Unknown assailants 1 Sept shot dead lawyer Kelvin Moncada in Danlí municipality, El Paraíso department (east); unidentified gunmen 8 Sept shot dead lawyer Santos Abel Martínez Barahona in capital Tegucigalpa. Over 200 lawyers have been murdered in Honduras since 2004; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif 12 Sept urged strengthening of national protection system for human rights defenders in country.

Govt took steps to tackle gender-based violence and enforced disappearances. Director of National Statistics Institute (INE) and representative of country’s UN Development Programme (UNDP) 7 Sept announced that in Oct-Nov this year, Honduras would conduct specialised survey on violence against women and girls with UNDP support, in effort to tackle gender-based violence. National Police and International Committee of the Red Cross 14 Sept signed agreement to strengthen mechanisms in place for search of disappeared persons.

Efforts to strengthen rule of law and combat corruption continued. Congress 14 Sept ratified installation of Nominating Committee, which will be made up of representatives from different social sectors and tasked with proposing candidates for Supreme Court in 2023. Meanwhile, during speech at UN General Assembly, President Castro 20 Sept confirmed establishment of international commission to combat corruption with support of UN Sec-Gen António Guterres.

August 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Amid ongoing efforts to detain and prosecute criminal leaders, authorities eradicated large number of coca bushes, and negotiations to establish UN-backed anti-corruption commission continued at slow pace. Judicial proceedings continued in U.S. against Honduran nationals extradited on drug-trafficking charges. Herlinda Bobadilla, head of Montes Bobadilla trafficking clan, 2 Aug pleaded not guilty to drug-trafficking charges at first court hearing in Virginia; trial expected to begin in Feb 2023. Former National Police Head Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla 10 Aug appeared before judge for first time, 19 Aug pleaded not guilty to drug-trafficking charges. Meanwhile, authorities 12 Aug extradited suspected MS-13 leader Tokiro Rodas Ramírez to U.S. on organised crime charges, 16 Aug arrested María Mendoza, alias “Marbella”, wanted for extradition by U.S. on human-trafficking charges, in La Esperanza municipality, Intibucá department (west). Authorities continued forced eradication of coca crops to curb activities of criminal groups, who largely control coca production. In Colón department (north east), authorities 1 Aug reported seizure of over 1.6mn coca bushes, largest seizure of its kind in country. In San Pedro Sula city, Cortés department (north west), unknown assailants 13 Aug killed five people, bringing number of massacres this year to 33. Meanwhile, efforts to establish anti-corruption commission continued at slow pace. Notably, govt 22 Aug submitted proposals and comments on memorandum draft that UN had proposed in July, suggesting limits to commission’s ability to serve as joint plaintiff and requesting to choose commissioner. On diplomatic front, Head of Congress Luis Redondo 11 Aug signed technical cooperation agreement with Legislative Assembly of El Salvador during visit to neighbouring country. Honduras next day abstained from Organization of American States (OAS) extraordinary session vote to condemn Nicaraguan President Ortega’s crackdown on dissent; OAS approved resolution.

July 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Congress passed controversial law setting out procedures for Supreme Court judge selection in 2023; number of violent incidents occurred throughout month. Despite appeal from U.S. govt for President Castro to guarantee judicial independence, National Congress 19 July approved controversial law establishing criteria and procedures for selecting new Supreme Court judges in 2023. Draft bill prohibited political party members or family members of candidates to be on nominating committee, but law that passed removed those restrictions. Deputies from opposition National Party and Honduras’ Saviour Party (PSH) voted against bill, saying it enabled politicisation of court. PSH president same day said he would not enter into another electoral alliance with ruling Libre Party, accusing them of going back on their word. Spate of violent incidents occurred during month. In Ilama municipality, Santa Bárbara department (north), authorities 4 July said inmates from 18th Street gang killed six other prisoners in maximum security prison El Pozo. Meanwhile, heavily armed men 14 July intercepted and killed one of former President Porfirio Lobo’s sons and three others in capital Tegucigalpa; police chief 16 July announced six people arrested, all reportedly MS-13 gang members. Head of military police 18 July said his units would patrol together with national police, following orders from Castro. U.S. State Dept 20 July added 15 Honduran businessmen and current and former officials to list of corrupt actors in Central America, known as Engel list, including vice president of Congress. Govt 20 July rejected “politically motivated” list and accused U.S. of “interfering in domestic affairs”. 

June 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt continued to make progress on tackling corruption and first signs of disagreement with U.S. emerged. President Castro’s govt continued to advance fight against corruption. Notably, court 10 June sentenced Marco Bográn, former executive of govt agency responsible for procuring emergency medical supplies, to ten years in prison for overpricing purchase of more than 470,000 masks and seven mobile hospitals during COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities 10 June began process of seizing assets belonging to extradited former head of National Police Juan Carlos Bonilla. Meanwhile, court 20 June sentenced former head of hydroelectric dam company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA) to 22 years in prison for role in assassination of environmentalist Berta Cáceres. Month brought first signs of disagreement with U.S.. FM Eduardo Enrique Reina 6-10 June attended Americas Summit hosted by U.S. in Los Angeles; Castro did not attend due to U.S. administration’s exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. At summit, U.S. confirmed nearly $3.2 bn of new investments in northern Central America to stem migration. UN Sec Gen 9 June met Reina, reiterated support for immediate establishment of International Commission against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH); Reina said commission could be established before end of year. EU Ambassador 13 June said EU would not rule out supporting commission as long as it is independent.

May 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Security forces continued targeting drug-trafficking organisations, authorities extradited former head of police, and setting-up of international anti-corruption body proceeded at slow pace. Authorities continued crackdown on criminal organisations. In Colón department (north east), police 15 May arrested Herlinda Bobadilla, leader of Montes Bobadilla trafficking clan, after U.S. authorities offered $15 mn reward for information leading to her and her sons’ arrest; in shootout, police killed Bobadilla’s son, Tito Montes Bobadilla, arrested three. In La Ceiba coastal town, police same day arrested Nicaraguan drug trafficker Omar Zamora Mayorga, who is wanted by U.S. Operations continued in Colón department to arrest those involved in assault and killing of three police officers in late April; police chief Gustavo Sánchez 4 May announced curfew’s extension for another 90 days. As of 2 May, police had eradicated 550,000 coca crops in 2022, surpassing 525,125 eradicated during 2021; forced eradication in country is aimed at curbing activities of criminal groups, who largely control coca production. Authorities 10 May extradited former head of National Police Juan Carlos Bonilla to U.S. on drug trafficking and weapons charges; Former President Juan Orlando Hernández same day pleaded not guilty to drug and weapons charges in federal court in U.S. Honduran court 19 May approved extradition to U.S. of MS-13 leader Tokiro Rodas Ramírez, alias “Perverso”. UN mission 9-13 May visited capital Tegucigalpa to assess possibility of creating International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras; commission met with representatives from judiciary, legislature, executive and civil society, including country’s president, Xiomara Castro. President Castro 11 May said she would not attend Americas Summit planned 6-10 June unless all countries were invited.

April 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Steps to tackle endemic corruption continued apace, former President Juan Orlando Hernández’s formally extradited to U.S., and transport workers launched one-day strike. Authorities 21 April extradited former President Hernández to U.S. on drug-trafficking and weapons charges after Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court 6 April rejected defence appeal, and 15 magistrates of Supreme Court 12 April unanimously authorised extradition. Hernández 22 April appeared for first time before U.S. judge, who read charges against him. Judge 8 April also authorised U.S. extradition request of former National Police Head Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, accused of overseeing Hernández’s drug-trafficking operations; Bonilla’s defence 11 April appealed decision, but Supreme Court 20 April confirmed extradition. National Defence Minister José Manuel Zelaya 3 April confirmed National Interinstitutional Security Force’s participation in arresting more than 12 Hondurans wanted in extradition by U.S. on drug-trafficking charges; Security Minister 6 April commented “surgical job” needed for fighting organised crime and corruption. UN 27 April said technical evaluation mission to assess possible establishment of International Anti-Corruption Commission due to arrive in Honduras 9 May. Meanwhile, transportation carriers 7 April launched nine-hour strike blocking main traffic avenues to protest rising fuel prices and demand state subsidies; President Castro immediately rejected demand to meet protestors because “stopping circulation is an illegal act punishable by law and represents a boycott of my government”. Castro and transport union 12 April signed agreement, including fixing tariffs and subsidies. Some transport representatives 19 April briefly blocked streets in capital Tegucigalpa, protesting against sanctions for increased prices. Administrators of national system of aqueducts and sewers 13 April warned Tegucigalpa faces humanitarian crisis due to water scarcity; UN World Food Programme 19 April sounded alarm about country’s worsening food security. Congress 20 April unanimously repealed tax-free Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs), said they undermine national sovereignty. Laura Dogu 12 April became first U.S. ambassador to Honduras since 2017. President Castro 25 April announced state of emergency in Colón department (north) after three unknown men previous day reportedly killed three police officers.

March 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Authorities took several steps to address endemic corruption, including approval of request to extradite former President Juan Orlando Hernández to U.S. National Congress 1 March approved repeal of 2013 “Law of Secrets”, which required classification of information on use of govt funds on grounds that, if disclosed, information could hinder country’s defence and national security. Congress 8 March appointed country’s first Anti-Corruption Committee; 16 March along with Anti-Corruption Committee agreed on institutional cooperation mechanism to increase transparency. Meanwhile, National Police 9 March arrested its former director, Juan Carlos “El Tigre”, who is wanted by U.S. court on drug-trafficking and weapons charges. Judge 16 March also approved U.S. request to extradite former President Hernández; defence next day said it would appeal decision; Supreme Court 28 March rejected demand, approved U.S. extradition request. Tribunal 17 March found former first lady, Rosa Elena Bonilla, guilty of fraud and embezzlement for second time, following trial repeat which had been requested in July 2020. Other moves however pointed to possible selective justice efforts as judiciary began implementing Feb amnesty law which paved way for dropping corruption charges against govt officials of Mel Zelaya administration. Meanwhile, President Xiomara Castro 1 March announced creation of penitentiary police and progressive public security demilitarisation; also said she would grant pardon to many inmates to reduce prisons’ overcrowding, although she has yet to specify who would benefit from relaxation measures. In unusual targeting of religious leaders, Rev José Enrique Vásquez was found dead 2 March in Morazán municipality (north), shot in head and chest; police 16-17 March detained three suspects for alleged role in killing. 

February 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Agreement between factions of ruling party Libre ended split within assembly, but Luis Redondo’s leadership in Congress continued to be questioned; U.S. requested extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández. Following Jan dispute over election of National Congress head, Libre Party 7 Feb signed agreement with dissident deputies supporting Libre legislator Jorge Cálix, recognising instead Luis Redondo from Honduras’ Saviour Party (PSH) as National Congress head; agreed that 18 lawmakers who they said in late Jan would be expelled from party would be reinstated. Redondo next day presided first plenary with all 128 members; while deputies, mainly from opposition National Party, insisted vote for National Congress Head should be repeated, Libre and PSH rejected demand. U.S. 14 Feb requested former President Hernández be extradited on drug-trafficking and related weapon charges; 7 Feb said Hernández’s U.S. visa had been revoked and that he had been included in Engel List of corrupt Central American actors since 1 July 2021. Hernández 15 Feb said he would surrender voluntarily; authorities however same day arrested him and Hernández next day appeared before judge who confirmed temporary detention; judge following case 21 Feb admitted defence’s request to turn detention into house arrest; Supreme Court 24 Feb however rejected house arrest’s request. Trujillo local court 9 Feb found six Guapinol (east) environmental activists arrested in 2019 guilty of aggravated damages on a private mining company and illegal detention of their security chief; NGO Amnesty International and UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders same day strongly condemned ruling; Supreme Court 10 Feb overruled decision and ordered activists’ release. Congress 2 Feb passed amnesty law for state employees of Mel Zelaya’s administration who faced politically motivated judicial prosecution; Zelaya is President Castro’s husband and was deposed in coup d’état in 2009; critics noted amnesty also covered those accused of embezzlement. Castro 17 Feb asked UN to set up International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras to help national authorities prosecute corrupt practices.

January 2022

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

President-elect Castro faced her first political test as split within her party triggered dispute over election of National Congress head; deadly violence against activists and mass migration continued. Tensions ran high during election of president of National Congress. In rejection of pre-election agreement signed in Oct 2021 between Libre Party and Honduras’ Saviour Party (PSH), some 20 Libre deputies, with support of National and Liberal parties, 21 Jan refused to appoint Luis Redondo from PSH as temporary head of Congress and instead appointed dissident Libre legislator Jorge Cálix, prompting brawl in Congress; Castro 21 Jan called it “treason”, and Libre same day expelled 18 lawmakers (some deputies later rejected expulsion, deeming it not in line with party statute). Libre followers same day occupied Congress entrance to protest. Two parallel Congress sessions held 23 Jan, one confirming Cálix, the other appointing Redondo. Castro 25 Jan offered Cálix to join her cabinet as coordinator, Cálix had yet to respond by end of the month. Amid tensions, Castro sworn in 27 Jan by judge, instead of head of Congress; Spain’s King Felipe VI and U.S. VP Kamala Harris, along with others, attended ceremony. Outgoing President Hernandez sworn in 27 Jan as member of Guatemala-based Central American Parliament, giving him immunity from prosecution during four-year tenure. Violence against social activists continued. Notably, unknown attackers 9 Jan killed Lenca community indigenous environmentalist and social leader Pablo Hernández in Lempira department, west of capital Tegucigalpa, triggering U.S. and EU condemnation; 10 Jan killed transgender activist Thalía Rodríguez in Tegucigalpa. Meanwhile, Guatemalan authorities 15 Jan dismantled caravan of 800 people composed mostly of Hondurans and Nicaraguans who had same day left Honduras’ San Pedro Sula city.

December 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Following months of heightened political tensions, country headed toward peaceful transfer of power as President Hernández recognised victory of outsider presidential candidate Xiomara Castro. Outgoing President Hernández 1 Dec congratulated left-wing Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party candidate Xiomara Castro on winning 28 Nov presidential election and called for “pacific and democratic transition of power”; Castro, first successful presidential candidate outside two traditional parties, due to become first female president in country’s history after taking office 27 Jan. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 10 Dec congratulated Castro on “historic victory”, expressed willingness “to increase economic opportunities, combat corruption, and deepen the partnership between the U.S. and Honduras”. National Electoral Council (NEC) 20 Dec released final presidential results, declaring Castro winner with 51.12% of votes, 14 points ahead of ruling National Party candidate Nasry Asfura at 36.93%; said turnout reached 68.58%. Meanwhile, controversy emerged over legislative elections also held 28 Nov. Candidates from various parties, particularly from Castro’s running mate Honduras’ Saviour Party, early Dec filed multiple complaints alleging fraud favouring candidates from both National Party and Liberal Party. NEC 7 Dec announced recount of almost 5,000 ballot boxes for legislative and municipal elections following at least 281 appeals; 28 Dec announced final results, with LIBRE winning 50 seats, National Party 44, Liberal Party 22, and Honduras’ Saviour Party ten. U.S. 2 Dec said Honduras, among other countries, was not invited to virtual summit for democracy to be held 9-10 Dec, citing “very disturbing activities” undermining democracy. Violence against politicians, political activists or civil society leaders persisted after 28 Nov votes. Notably, unidentified assailants 5 Dec shot and killed local leader of LIBRE party in Santa Cruz municipality, Lempira department. Armed individuals 8 Dec shot dead justice official in La Unión municipality, Olancho department, and next day killed lawyer in Danlí municipality, El Paraíso department.

November 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Despite deadly violence against local politicians in lead-up to polls, win of opposition presidential candidate Xiomara Castro accepted peacefully by month’s end. Following 28 Nov general elections, electoral authorities 30 Nov presented preliminary results, giving opposition candidate Castro 20-point lead in presidential race with 53% of votes against 34% for ruling National Party candidate Nasry Asfura. Voter turnout high at 68%. Liberal Party candidate Yani Rosenthal, as well as private sector leaders, 29 Nov recognised Castro’s victory, and National Party next day acknowledged defeat. Legislative elections result however still unclear by month’s end. First part of Nov saw worrying deadly attacks dominate electoral campaign. In Francisco Morazán department (centre), unidentified assailants overnight 5-6 Nov shot and killed local politician and member of ruling National Party of Honduras (PNH) Renán Godoy Martín in Talanga municipality, and 13 Nov killed San Juan de Flores’ mayor and opposition Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH) official Francisco Gaitán Agüero. In neighbouring La Paz department, unidentified assailants 11 Nov killed Óscar Moya, local PLH official and municipal councillor in Santiago de Puringla. In Santa Bárbara department (north), gunmen 13 Nov killed local opposition Liberty and Re-Foundation (LIBRE) official Elvir Casaña in San Luis city. Internationally, authorities 4 Nov detained opposition presidential candidate Santos Rodríguez Orellana in capital Tegucigalpa on money-laundering charges. International partners reiterated calls for peaceful elections. Head of EU Electoral Observation Mission, Željana Zovko, 1 Nov urged politicians to end campaign of “fear and polarisation”, while UN Office in Honduras 9 Nov called on all candidates “to desist from any action that violates human rights”. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 23 Nov expressed “deep concern” over political violence, said her office had recorded 63 cases including 29 killings since Sept 2020.

October 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

In possible game-changing move ahead of 28 Nov general elections, top opposition parties formed alliance. Opposition parties Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) and Salvador de Honduras 13 Oct formed alliance and rallied behind Libre’s Xiomara Castro as presidential candidate, with view to offering her stronger platform against ruling party candidate Nasry Asfura. CID-Gallup poll 8 Oct had previously indicated Asfura leading race with 21% voting intention, followed by Castro and Salvador de Honduras’ candidate Salvador Nasralla with 18% each. Congress 7 Oct approved reforms to Penal Code and anti-money-laundering law, which among other changes, identify civil society organisations investigating corruption as “Politically Exposed People” – those who are more vulnerable to being involved in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position – and expand definition of crime of usurpation, which could lead to criminalisation of protests. Critics, including head of public ministry’s anti-corruption prosecution office, same day argued changes part of effort to protect members of Congress from corruption investigations. Public ministry 18 Oct detained ruling National Party of Honduras mayor of Talanga town, Roosevelt Eduardo Aviléz López, and some of his family members, on money-laundering charges.

September 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Political tensions ran high ahead of general elections scheduled for Nov, and deportation of Honduran migrants from Mexico and U.S. continued. Violence against politicians continued. Unidentified gunman 6 Sept shot and injured mayoral candidate for opposition Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) in San Luis municipality, Santa Bárbara department. Unidentified gunmen 21 Sept reportedly kidnapped and later killed ruling National Party of Honduras official and former municipal councillor of San Luis municipality, Comayagua department. CID-Gallup opinion poll which surveyed 1,288 people 10 Sept found ruling-party presidential candidate, Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asfura, holds narrow lead with 21% voting intentions, followed by LIBRE candidate Xiomara Castro, and other prominent opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, both at 18%; absent procedural law that lays out clear mechanisms to settle electoral disputes and defines legal jurisdictions, tight race could trigger post-electoral crisis. Meanwhile, upward trend in deportations of Honduran nationals from Mexico and U.S. continued. Consular and Migration Observatory of Honduras 7 Sept said 36,833 Hondurans had been deported back to their country between 1 Jan and 31 Aug – compared to 28,182 during same period last year.

August 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Authorities expanded tax-free zones despite opposition and launched major anti-gang operation. Congress 13 Aug approved law that allows tax-free Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs) to sign agreements with municipalities, 126 of whom have rejected move so far. Combined police and military force 13 Aug launched operation against criminal gangs in at least 12 cities; public ministry same day claimed operation was successful, resulting in 138 people detained, 35 guns and $160,000 seized. Authorities 27 Aug arrested Jerry Hynds, mayor of Caribbean island Roatán, and three other men on drug trafficking charges. Over 75 NGOs 18 Aug called on Supreme Court to order release of eight environmental activists who have been detained for two years; request comes after Public Ministry in June requested extension of their provisional detention, which was granted 26 Aug for another six months. National Electoral Council 4 Aug approved budget of HNL1,000mn ($42mn) for Nov general elections, next day announced approval of digital results transmission system aimed at considerably speeding up counting of votes.

July 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Uncertainty persisted over electoral process, opposition to tax-free economic zones continued, and U.S. sanctioned officials for alleged corruption. National Electoral Council 13 July warned general elections scheduled for Nov are at risk since Congress has not yet approved funds to implement provisions foreseen in May electoral reforms. Opposition to govt’s plan to install more tax-free Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs) continued to mount. Several social and peasant organisations 14 July staged rallies in capital Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba city (north) to demand that all municipalities be declared free of ZEDEs, arguing that they do not produce employment and could lead to displacement of vulnerable populations. National Anti-Corruption Council 19 July presented legislative proposal to repeal current ZEDEs law. Unidentified gunmen 6 July killed peasant and human rights defender Juan Manuel Moncada in Colón department (north); UN human rights office in Honduras 8 July called for prompt and impartial investigation and urged govt to take “necessary measures” to protect peasant leaders and rights defenders. Tegucigalpa High Court 5 July found former head of construction firm DESA, David Castillo, guilty of masterminding killing of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in 2016; Cáceres had led opposition to DESA’s dam project. U.S. State Dept 1 July imposed visa restrictions on 21 senior Honduran politicians, including 13 lawmakers, over accusations of corruption, obstructing justice, or undermining democracy; 20 July announced visa restrictions on former President Pepe Lobo and his immediate relatives for alleged corruption.

June 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Deadly brawl opposed members of two rival gangs in country’s most notorious prison. Brawl between members of 18th Street gang and rival MS-13 gang 17 June broke out at La Tolva high-security prison east of capital Tegucigalpa, leaving at least five inmates killed and 39 people injured, including prison guards; prisons have been under military control since late 2019. Unidentified gunmen 7 June killed member of Garifuna indigenous community in Comayagua city (centre), bringing to six number of Garifuna people killed in 2021. Govt continued to face accusations of mismanagement of COVID-19 pandemic. National Anticorruption Council (CNA) 14 June said only two of seven mobile hospitals purchased in 2020 to treat COVID-19 patients have become operational, denounced “paved roads for the corrupt”; CNA has submitted to prosecutors 14 reports on irregularities in mobile hospitals’ purchase since 2020. Police 18 June fired tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters demanding reconstruction of levees washed away by hurricanes in 2020 in San Pedro Sula city’s neighbourhood Chamelecón (north). Some 32 civil society groups 16 June formed national movement against tax-free Special Zones of Economic Development (ZEDEs), arguing they do not produce employment and could lead to displacement of vulnerable populations; 22 June organised small protest against ZEDEs in Tegucigalpa. U.S. development agency Administrator Samantha Power 13 June visited Honduras, announced nearly $24mn in aid to address root causes of migration.

May 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Despite approval of new electoral law, uncertainty continued to loom over electoral process in lead-up to Nov polls. National Congress 25 May approved new electoral law. Opposition leader and former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla same day decried law as “farce” that consolidates three-party system and excludes others, said his party will boycott Nov elections if not granted representatives at polling stations. National Anticorruption Council 26 May also criticised law for allowing individuals facing corruption investigations to run. U.S. court 13 May requested extradition of former police chief, Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, on drug-trafficking charges. U.S. Congresswoman 18 May disclosed names of five Honduran lawmakers accused by U.S. State Dept of embezzlement or narco-trafficking. Govt continued to face criticism over management of COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, National Anticorruption Council 6 May urged President Hernández’s govt to immediately address deficiencies and shortcomings of triage centres in seven departments.

April 2021

Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras

Govt continued to face legitimacy crisis ahead of Nov general elections amid drug trafficking and corruption allegations against senior officials.