Ten years after a coup, Honduras remains deeply polarised. Mass protests and the government’s heavy-handed response have damaged the economy and sparked deadly violence. Crisis Group Northern Triangle Analyst Tiziano Breda explains the origins of the intense public discontent that is roiling the country.
Political tensions worsened as protests against govt’s planned reforms continued, while clashes between anti-govt demonstrators and police led to nationwide deployment of army. Despite President Hernández 2 June revoking planned reforms to health and education systems that could potentially lead to privatisation and mass dismissals, political tensions remained high and protesters demanded Hernández’s resignation; Hernández 10 June said govt would not tolerate protesters’ vandalism while defence secretary reaffirmed army’s willingness to support police in maintaining order. Truck and taxi drivers 17 June and members of police special forces unit 18 June began strikes for better pay and conditions but called them off 20 June after reaching agreements with government. Widespread anti-govt demonstrations continued, including severe unrest in Tegucigalpa 19 June in which police accused of killing two people. Hernández 20 June announced indefinite deployment of army nationwide to maintain order. Same day, military police reportedly shot dead 17-year-old protester in La Paz department. In Tegucigalpa, students and security forces 24 June clashed, with media reporting that after military police fired tear gas on protesters, who responded by throwing stones, police opened fire and wounded at least five students; military policeman also injured in clash 26 June.
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