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.
Following Dec agreements resulting from UN-led dialogue, parties began to discuss and approve reforms. Member of Congress 12 Feb proposed Electoral Procedural law to regulate operations of Electoral Supreme Court. Liberal Party 24 Jan proposed bill that would use plebiscites to decide on issues such as presidential re-election and electoral second round if parties cannot reach agreement. Political tensions remained high following late-Jan protests demanding President Hernández’s resignation; NGO 19 Feb reported 171 protesters detained in aftermath of Hernández’s election in 2017 have been prosecuted so far. Hernández 12 Feb claimed govt is liberating Honduras from gangs, with no homicides reported in 177 out of 298 municipalities in 2019. However, Church 7 Feb expressed concern over rise of femicides with some 40 murders of women 1 Jan-7 Feb; human rights commissioner 15 Feb stated 90% of cases go unpunished. Hondurans continued to set off in “caravans” attempting to reach U.S. border, with 200 people leaving San Pedro Sula (north) 8 Feb; officials 7 Feb reported 4,610 Hondurans deported from Mexico and U.S. in Jan.
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