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 Secretary-General appointed three experts to conduct exploratory mission 6-9 Feb to evaluate conditions for dialogue between govt and opposition, following request from President Hernández to UN and Organization of American States (OAS). OAS tried to launch similar effort, but mission leader, former Guatemala President Álvaro Colom, was arrested 13 Feb. UN envoys concluded there were no conditions for dialogue in a 22 Feb report, invited main political forces to establish consensus over goals of any future dialogue mission. Opposition party Alianza Contra la Dictadura 11 Feb declared “total insurrection” and notified creation of 10,000 “commandos”, allegedly including armed cells. Hernández 15 Feb announced plan to revise criminal legislation and approve harsher sentences for gang members, amid rise in violence, with nine mass murders in 2018 killing over two dozen people. OAS-backed Support Mission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), which joined widespread condemnation of “immunity pact” passed by Congress in Jan shielding lawmakers from last three administrations from embezzlement charges, 5 Feb announced that 140 lawmakers and 30 NGOs are involved in embezzlement cases. In further setback in fight against corruption, MACCIH’s head Juan Jiménez Mayor resigned 15 Feb, alleging lack of support from OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
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