Like its fellow countries in the north of Central America, El Salvador and Guatemala, Honduras suffers from high crime rates and severe poverty in the wake of civil wars in the 1980s. Street gangs roam unchecked in many urban neighbourhoods while drug traffickers ply the coasts and plague all levels of the state. A contested presidential election in 2017 spurred a wave of political violence, though all sides seem to have accepted the recent landslide victory of left-leaning Xiomara Castro. Chronic socio-economic ills, coupled with poor governance and rampant corruption, are the main drivers of northward migration, which has its own perils for those who venture the journey. Crisis Group studies the roots of the country’s persistent problems and pushes for policy solutions to break the cycle of forced departure and deportation.

CrisisWatch Honduras

Unchanged Situation

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.

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