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.
Civil unrest continued during month amid allegations that President Hernández used narco-trafficking proceeds in 2013 presidential campaign. U.S. Federal Court document 2 Aug cited Hernández as part of group of high-level officials who used illicit money to consolidate political power, accusing Hernández of receiving $1.5mn for campaign financing for 2013 presidential election from individuals involved in drug trafficking; president’s office 3 Aug denied accusations. Allegations spurred public anger; university students 5 Aug used rocks and burning tyres to establish roadblock on Supaya Boulevard in capital Tegucigalpa, demanding Hernández’s resignation and clashing with anti-riot police. Protests grew in Tegucigalpa 6 Aug and 7 Aug spread to other cities. Police officers 6 Aug fired tear gas into bus filled with university students in San Pedro Sula, leaving several injured. In continued electoral reform efforts, Congress 15 Aug approved final bill outlining process for election of members of newly-created National Electoral Council to oversee electoral cycles and Electoral Justice Tribunal to settle election-related disputes; 22 Aug appointed members of special commission in charge of process. Amid regional focus on migration and after late July U.S.-Guatemala “Safe Third Country” agreement requiring migrants who pass through Guatemala to first seek asylum there instead of U.S., acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan 1 Aug stated U.S. will pursue similar agreement with Honduras. Hernández 26 Aug travelled to Washington to discuss migration issues, among other matters.
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