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.
Ruling National Party, Liberal Party and former opposition alliance presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla 14 May joined UN-backed dialogue to continue discussing human rights and legal reforms that would prevent recurrence of political crisis similar to late 2017 post-election crisis. Earlier, Nasralla 11 May resigned from main opposition group Opposition Alliance against Dictatorship, which did not attend meeting, raising doubts over prospect of fruitful dialogue. National Party continued to push for conservative social agenda and militarised security policy during month, including discussions in Congress of mandatory Bible readings in schools and compulsory military service as “violence prevention” measures. UN special rapporteur on situation of human rights defenders, Michael Frost, following mid-May visit highlighted setbacks in anti-corruption campaign and lack of protection for human rights defenders. Govt rejected Organization of American States (OAS)’s April appointment of Luiz Antonio Guimarães Marrey as chief for Mission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), requested second option. Rose Elena de Lobo, wife of former president, acquitted on embezzlement charges in another perceived setback for MACCIH. U.S. govt 4 May announced termination of Temporary Protected Status for around 57,000 Hondurans; deportations, up 25% in 2018 compared to 2017, likely to increase further.
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