Despite U.S. restrictions on Central American migration, Hondurans are fleeing north in record numbers as the country struggles with polarised government, corruption, poverty and violence. With outside help, Tegucigalpa should revisit its heavy-handed security policies and enact judicial and electoral reforms to avert future upheaval.
Authorities faced new allegations of corruption and mismanagement of COVID-19 response, while fight against corruption suffered setback. National Anti-Corruption Council 3 Aug charged former head of state-managed company Invest-H Marco Bográn with fraud and abuse of power following reports that Invest-H overpaid medical equipment amid COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecutors 10 Aug launched investigation into alleged govt mismanagement of COVID-19 response after 250,000 tests which had been inadequately stored were destroyed in April-May. Fight against corruption suffered major setback. Appeals Court 5 Aug dismissed embezzlement charges against 22 National Congress deputies in so-called “Pandora case” involving diversion of $12mn in public money to finance election campaigns. Faced with persistent insecurity, members of Garifuna indigenous community 10 and 18 Aug protested in Triunfo de la Cruz village, Atlántida department, demanding release of five community leaders kidnapped by armed group in July. Insecurity in prisons remained high; fellow inmates 6 Aug killed three jailed members of 18th Street gang in La Tolva (east of Tegucigalpa) maximum security prison; police 3, 14 and 21 Aug carried out inspections in three different jails, finding large volumes of cash and weapons. In ongoing operations against drug trafficking, security forces 9 Aug destroyed airstrip used by trafficker in Gracias a Dios department (Caribbean region), and 16 Aug dismantled drug production facilities in Colón department (north). Govt 11 Aug invited Organization of American States (OAS) to oversee 2021 general elections. National Election Council next day approved introduction of second round in presidential election; reform now requires Congress approval.
Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
We are worried about what might be the long-term consequences of the current turmoil [in Honduras], especially in terms of how drug-trafficking groups may expand activities in a period of political crisis.
Violence [in Honduras] is likely to escalate in the upcoming weeks since there is still no clear winner [of the elections] and the opposition its mobilizing its supporters.
As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.
The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.
Originally published in El Pulso
Originally published in Los Angeles Times