A Two Edged Sword

December 21, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

 

 

By

Ricardo Swire

The Republic of Honduras is a hot and mountainous South American country, roughly the size of Louisiana in the USA. According to United Nations data Honduras is the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere, the mix of drugs trafficking, political instability and history contributing to a murder rate four times that of Mexico.

A World Bank study identified the economic cost to Honduras, caused by effects of organized crime, was nine point six percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worth US$885 million.

The Collective Security Analysis for Democracy’s report revealed that between 2011 and 2013 approximately one hundred thousand weapons were trafficked to Honduras. Six hundred and fifty thousand, of eight hundred thousand firearms circulated in Honduras, are illegal unlicensed weapons. Straw buyers purchase firearms on behalf of the drug cartels, guns also bought from rogue soldiers in neighboring Guatemala.

On the evening of Thursday December 15th 2016 gunmen attacked a Honduras Police Reform Commission (HPRC) member’s home. The Evangelical Pastor and his wife escaped unhurt, but his assigned Military Police protection officer was killed and another unidentified bodyguard seriously wounded in the shootout. Internal security reports detailed that shortly before the incident the targeted HPRC member had attended an official meeting, the termination of 419 Honduran police officers was the main agenda item.

During the 1980s America used Honduras as a training and arms supply location for Black Ops sponsored groups that fought regional Leftist guerillas. Honduran officials, trained during that era, continue to influence local military and police operations. “Democracy” used to kill and torture residents. From 2008 the US provided a minimum US$50 million to Honduras law enforcement operations.

At the same time “disappearances” became part of local security culture. Public safety was manhandled with a combination of bravado and religion. The Honduras Public Safety Office’s website declares; “All people shall obey the governing authorities, because there is no authority other than God, and those in place have been established by God.”

In April 2010 American tradesmen built Honduras’ Catarasca Base in Mosquitia on the eastern part of the country, at a cost of US$1.9 million via US Department of Defence (DOD) issued contracts. The US Navy built Guanaja Naval Base on the Bay Islands Department off Honduras north coast and supplied technology collectively worth US$2 million. The Guanaja base accommodates both American and Honduran drug interdiction aircraft. Soto Cano airfield headquarters in Comayagua, gives permanence to US military presence in Honduras.

In October 2011 Honduras police faced humiliation. Eight officers were accused of kidnapping and killing the national university rector’s son and his friend. A formal investigation discovered the existence of criminal gangs within Honduras’ Police Force. The national police Chief was fired and a new one appointed. In February 2013 Honduras’ most senior police officer was six months into the job when his son was also murdered. The Chief of Police then hastily fled to America.

In 2012 the US government’s Peace Corps withdrew its volunteers from the South American population of eight million residents. In 2013 the Honduran Ministry of Security recorded the homicide rate of seventy-five point six per one hundred thousand, a significant difference from official United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime’s (UNODC) figures for the same year. The UNODC estimated that Honduran gang members numbered more than twice the sixteen thousand police compliment.

US State Department’s data warned that the Honduras government lacked “sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases,” a situation that allows criminals to “operate with a high degree of impunity” throughout the country. One 2013 intelligence report noted the discovery of several young Honduran male bodies with hands bound, killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head. Honduras’ governing powers ordered the military to conduct “Operation Lightning,” as an attempt to bring order to streets and restore peaceful communities.

The political maneuver formally militarized policing and jettisoned Honduras’ Constitution. Local reports suggested insufficient soldiers, assigned from among fourteen thousand members, were deployed. Military sections only patrolled during daylight hours, duties unplanned and zones not allocated in quadrants. Dominant gangs conducted clandestine activities largely at night. Organized extortion rackets forced residents and business owners to either pay “War Tax” or be killed.

In the city of Tegucigalpa alone as many as fourteen thousand vendors paid US$15 per week to gang members. Such War Tax fees generated roughly US$10 million per year in underworld revenue. Crime gangs became aggressive toward youth, teen boys instructed to join the gang or die. Escaping such death threats meant fleeing Honduras. Some nationals, already in America working illegally, hired Mexican coyotes to smuggle relatives to the Mexico/Texas border.

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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