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.
Left-wing opposition alliance candidate and TV personality Salvador Nasralla 29 Nov refused to accept sharply contested results from 26 Nov general elections, amid allegations of fraud and massive protests from opposition supporters in several parts of country after Electoral Supreme Court decided to postpone final vote count until 1 Dec. At least one person was reported killed in clashes with police, with fears protests and violence could worsen; President Hernández expected to win by minimum margin after Nasralla had initially been on course for victory. Prior to election, opposition parties 23 Nov accused govt of launching “campaign of fear”, amid three alleged political killings, including National Party congressional candidate in Tegucigalpa murdered 5 Nov, and two political activists. Honduran Autonomous University 6 Nov announced 21.2% decrease in homicides in first six months of 2017, although violence against journalists continued, including late Oct killing of cameraman in Copán (west). Nasralla 14 Nov promised to revisit Hernández’s police reform process if he becomes president. International investigation team late Oct said March 2016 murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres was product of coordinated plot with involvement by govt officials and international hydroelectric firm.
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.
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