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Honduras: A Violence, Repression and Impunity Capital of the World

Grahame Russell May 26, 2012

There is no end in sight to violence and repression in Honduras. There is also no end in sight to American and Canadian governments and business maintaining political, economic and military relations with the country's military-backed regime.

Even as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officers killed at least 4 Honduran civilians – including 2 pregnant women – in the name of the "drug war", two more journalists, Alfredo Villatoro and Erick Martínez Ávila, have been killed in Honduras.

'Violence Capital' of the World

Since the June 2009 military coup, that ousted the country's democratically-elected government, Honduras has been referred to as the 'murder capital' of the world, a 'journalist killing' capital of the Americas, an 'LGBT killing capital', a 'prisoner killing capital', a 'lawyer killing capital', etc.

In January, The Miami Herald published an editorial "Central America's free-fire zone. Our opinion: dramatic crisis in Honduras demands action". They write:

"The country is quickly turning into a disaster zone…To make matters worse in Honduras, there are indications that elements of the U.S.-backed government are complicit in the violence and criminality. … A report in Sunday's Miami Herald ("Graft, greed, mayhem turn Honduras into murder capital of world") offers an eye-opening look at the rampant mayhem. Honduras has become a free-fire zone…The murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000 residents (compared to 5.5 per 100,000 in Florida), gives Honduras the highest homicide rate in the world."

In January, the New York Times published an op-ed piece "In Honduras, a mess made in the U.S." The article's author, Dana Frank, writes:

"It's time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become. Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed Honduras's democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the State Department's making. According to the United Nations, it now has the world's highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, its second city, is more dangerous than Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a center for drug cartel violence. Much of the press in the United States has attributed this violence solely to drug trafficking and gangs. But the coup was what threw open the doors to a huge increase in drug trafficking and violence, and it unleashed a continuing wave of state-sponsored repression."

Dark Tunnel of Violence and Repression

In the short term, there is no light at the end of Honduras' tunnel of violence and repression. A fundamental, underlying problem is that American and Canadian governments and business are maintaining profitable economic and military relations with the military-backed Honduran regime, turning a blind eye to, and partially benefiting from the violence, repression and impunity. These North American relations 'legitimize' and empower the regime.

Short-Term Challenges

In the short term, North Americans must keep on writing and pressuring their elected politicians and other government officials, with copies to the media. Public shaming of and pressure on North American governments and businesses is vital if we are to weaken the 'legitimizing' and empowerment of this Honduran regime.

It is also crucial to continue supporting (with funds, human rights accompaniment, solidarity delegations, etc.) civil society groups in Honduras – many of which are members of the National Resistance Front – that are courageously struggling to denounce the abuses and human rights violations of the regime, all the while struggling and working to restore their democratic order and to re-found the State and society.

2013 Presidential Elections

Despite the repression, violence and impunity, there is a chance for positive change in 2013. The wife of the militarily ousted President Zelaya has been chosen as leader of a new political party – LIBRE. Whereas many Hondurans, now in the National Resistance Front, were not Zelaya supporters before the coup, they have been moved by the dignified position that both Mel Zelaya and his wife Xiomara took, since the day of the coup.

Even as repression and violence will assuredly continue through 2012 and into 2013, with complete impunity, the 2013 presidential elections will pit the corrupted pro-coup, pro-oligarchy traditional parties versus this new LIBRE party that has grown out of civil society's courageous opposition to the military coup and on-going State repression and the Honduran people's overwhelming desire of to re-found their State and society in order to realize a truly democratic order.

LIBRE would easily win truly democratic elections, given the chance. However, these elections will be very complicated, at best, and will likely see corruption and systematic threats and repression against people aligned with the LIBRE party.

The struggle in Honduras against repression, violence, corruption and impunity, and for democracy and a just and equal society is at once a Honduran struggle and also a struggle for the Americas, south to north.

This article was originally published by Upside Down World.

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