With massive protests, armed clashes and a government-declared state of emergency, Honduras is in social and political chaos after the 26 November general elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Northern Triangle Analyst Sofía Martínez explains what has sparked the crisis and its potential effect on armed violence.
UN-led National Dialogue process resumed 11 Dec, with ruling-National Party, opposition Liberal Party and representatives of former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla reaching over 70 agreements regarding human rights, electoral reforms and accountability, among others; no consensus on amnesty for detainees from 2017 post-election protests or on referendum to approve presidential re-election. Political tension remained high following descent into violence of 27 Nov anti-govt march in capital as police fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters marching on anniversary of 2017 election; masked protesters 6 Dec burned several buses in Tegucigalpa. Thousands of mostly Honduran migrants continued to wait at U.S-Mexico border to request asylum in U.S.; two Honduran teenagers reportedly murdered in Tijuana, Mexico 15 Dec. U.S. and Mexico 19 Dec announced $5.8bn in U.S. aid for Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and $4.8bn for Mexico to stem illegal migration. Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador 1 Dec signed agreement for major development plan for Central America and southern Mexico aimed at slowing migration.Seven men found guilty 7 Dec of murdering environmentalist Berta Cáceres in 2016, in trial severely criticised by many human rights groups for lack of due process. U.S. President Trump 28 Dec threatened to cut “all aid” to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they do more to stop migration.
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.
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