- By some accounts, it's the world's murder capital. The
UN Development Program (UNDP) reported 4,473 2008 murders (61.3 per 100,000)
in a country with about 7.3 million people, the equivalent of over 190,000
annual US killings, over 10 times the actual rate.
- For 2009, anthropologist Adrienne Pine estimated a 9%
increase, saying in June 2010:
- "As someone who has been closely following the human
rights and political stability situation in Honduras for over a dozen years;
who has written a book and numerous articles on the topic; who has served
as an expert witness in over a dozen asylum cases; and who has been living
and conducting research in Honduras during the past month, I can say with
absolute confidence that I have never seen worse security conditions in
- "And while in the previous decade, the victims of
extrajudicial assassinations and other forms of state violence were disproportionately
young men identified (often incorrectly) as gang members, today a large
percentage of the victims fall into two primary categories: people who
are involved in or are openly critical of drug trafficking, and individuals
who are seen as being critical of the June 28, 2009 coup."
- "The latter category has included 9 journalists
killed in targeted assassinations, and the disappearance, torture, and
murder of numerous local and national leaders of the non-violent resistance
movements and their daughters, sons, brothers and sisters....all since
the beginning" of the current Pepe Lobo regime, controlled by two
forces: the military, and a small group of powerful business elites, united
in their opposition against anyone opposing the coup.
- In addition, the atmosphere of impunity assures virtually
no investigations or prosecutions. Moreover, victims are "posthumously
slandered by the police and media as having brought their deaths upon themselves,"
either for involvement in drugs or "calling for a more participatory
- Supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya are notably
at risk, because the legitimacy of those in power "depends largely
on their unsubstantiated argument that (he) was corrupt and engaged in
- Pine believes "generalized violence serves as cover
for politically targeted assassinations," happening on a near-daily
basis. "It is an extremely dangerous environment," forcing well
over 100 people into exile, and many others into self-imposed house arrest,
what's no guarantee of safety. Death squads have kidnapped or killed numerous
coup opponents and their family members at home, work or other perceived
less vulnerable places.
- After the June 28, 2009 coup, two earlier articles covered
death squad terror to solidify fascist rule against street protesters,
human rights activists, journalists, unionists, campesinos, teachers, and
anyone challenging state authority, accessed through the following links:
- By any standard or measure, Honduras is an extremely
violent country, one of the world's worst outside of war zones.
- On October 31, Al Jazeera headlined, "Massacre in
northern Honduras," saying:
- "Unknown gunmen attacked a group of people playing
football....killing at least fourteen...." Armed with assault rifles,
five or more attackers shot victims at point blank range. Ten people died
immediately, four others en route to the hospital. More were wounded, some
- Honduran vice-minister of security, Armando Calidonio,
blamed street gangs (maras), likely to absolve death squad responsibility.
In September, gunmen killed 18 shoe factory employees in San Pedro Sula.
Maras again were blamed. Likely it for their union related activities,
not drugs or crime.
- According to Honduras' human rights ombudsman (an oxymoron
under Lobo), "Honduras is on track to finish the year with the world's
highest murder rate, (totaling) 78.8 per 100,000."
- On November 16, Latin America Bureau writer Rory Carroll
headlined, "Honduras: We are burying kids all the time," saying:
- "Three young people are murdered every day in Honduras,"
the result of mara youth gangs involved in drug trafficking, extortion
and violence, "stretching from Los Angeles to the country's capital
- "What are the words for what is happening in Honduras?
Slaughter, tragedy, waste?" The annual youth death toll is nearly
6,000, "an extraordinarily high number" that makes Honduras "more
dangerous than Mexico....Part of the explanation....is political."
Most he attributes to gang-related violence, whether or not true.
- Casa Alianza estimates that gang rivalry accounts for
about 40% of the killings, contract assassinations (sicarios) another 15%.
"For just a few hundred dollars, sometimes less, they will pump bullets
into your problem." A culture of impunity exacerbates conditions.
"Of the thousands of youth murders in the past decade, fewer than
50" were solved. In Honduras, killing is a growth industry, but over-hyping
gang involvement overstates reality.
- Anthropologist and mara expert Dennis Rodgers says "Gangs
have become convenient scapegoats on which to blame (state) problems, and
through which those in power attempt to maintain an unequal status quo."
Accusing authorities of exploiting the phenomenon, he added, "I don't
think there is much coordination (between gangs). They are local foot soldiers,
hired guns for the cartels."
- According to anthropologist Robert Barrios, maras have
been exploited as a "fetishized evil to disguise" ruling power
harshness and failure.
- Grassroots Resistance
- Honduras RESISTE: National Resistance Front is a coalition
of grassroots organizations for Honduran democracy.
- On November 15, it said oligarch Miguel Facusse's "private
army" attacked members of the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MUCA) in
Tumbador, Trujillo. Five were killed, three more wounded. One of Honduras'
largest landowners, he's responsible for ongoing violence in Colon. In
collusion with police and military forces, his paramilitaries murder with
- Last January, MUCA reported ongoing violations of their
rights for years, more recently for having reclaimed their land. Francisco
Funez, Zelaya's Director of the National Agrarian Institute, said:
- Under Honduras' coup d'etat regime, "conflicts have
sharpened in the country and especially in Aguan where the agrarian conflicts
for land are ongoing, despite the fact that (Zelaya), the peasants, the
National Agrarian Institute, and the land owners signed an agreement that
said that nobody could dispute the property of those lands without demonstrating
the legality of it. Nonetheless, the displacement continues in that zone
and the threat is" real.
- As a result, peasants are being "prosecuted for
the crime of usurpation and are receiving persecution and (death) threats."
- In October, Bertha Oliva, leader of the Committee of
Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) said 83 resistance
members were kidnapped or killed since January. In 1981, her husband, Professor
Tomas Nativi, disappeared. Today, CAFADEH members and their families are
threatened, assaulted, kidnapped or killed.
- Rights Action (RA) focuses on community development,
emergency relief, environmental and human rights issues in Guatemala, Mexico,
El Salvador and Honduras. It aims to "build north-south alliances
and carries out education, political and legal work for global equity and
justice," following a "just development model."
- On November 19, RA contributor Annie Bird headlined,
"Honduras: World Bank Shares Responsibility for Biofuel Massacre of
6 Campesinos," saying:
- About six months ago, MUCA got provisional title to a
farm, neighboring their community, "as part of a longstanding negotiation
with Dinant Corporation, a biofuel company, whose land claims are illegitimate."
- On November 15, after weeks of armed security force encroachments,
six campesinos were murdered, two others seriously wounded.
- "In November 2009....the World Bank's International
Finance Corporation gave Dinant a $30 million loan for biofuel production,
and now shares responsibility in the massacre."
- Over the past decade, campesino-designated land "was
illegally divided up among several large landholders as a result of corruption
and fraudulent titling processes." Small victories were won to get
it back. However, the "titling process has been slow and marked by
violent attacks by the large landowners," in collusion with military
forces and police.
- Facusse owns the contested 700 hectares controlled by
Dinant. Campesinos are being cheated out of what's rightfully theirs. An
earlier article discussed the scourge of biofuels, accessed through the
- Touted as a solution to a growing world energy shortage,
the facts refute the hype. Organic fuels, in fact, trash rainforests, deplete
water reserves, kill off species, and increase greenhouse emissions. Some
solution. They aren't clean and green. They destroy rural development,
forcing small farmers off their land. They increase hunger, and better
"second-generation" argofuels aren't around the corner. The greater
their proliferation, the more harm to the earth and everyone who eats.
- Honduran campesinos face greater dangers. Those contesting
their land rights are murdered, big landowners in collusion with agribusiness
and regime fascists killing anyone who resists with impunity. No wonder
Honduras is on a fast track to becoming the world's murder capital.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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