Monday, January 9, 2012

Honduran Collapse

Honduras has been a violent place for some time.  There has been recent political skirmishing between leftists who have wanted to (re-) start a Chavez or possibly Sandinista-style government, and the Honduran elected assemblies and judiciary.  While Honduras has always had its problems, one has not had the sense that it approached its neighbor, Guatamala’s violence levels.  That has changed.
It is now, by some marks the most dangerous country in the World.
By Nick Miroff, Washington Post, 26 December 2011 (Hat tip: MR)
Honduras had 82.1 homicides per 100,000 residents last year, the highest per-capita rate in the world, according to a global homicide report published by the United Nations in October that included estimates for Iraq and Afghanistan. Security concerns prompted the U.S. Peace Corps to announce last week that it would pull all 158 volunteers out of Honduras.
As in Guatemala and El Salvador, Honduras’s neighbors in the Northern Triangle region of Central America, the homicide problem goes back decades. But as Mexico’s billionaire drug mafias expand their smuggling networks deeper into Central America to evade stiffer enforcement in Mexico and the Caribbean, violence has exploded, as if the cocaine were gasoline tossed on a fire.
It starts on the isolated beaches and jungle airstrips of Honduras’s Mosquitia region, where 95 percent of the suspected drug flights from South America to Central America land, according to U.S. narcotics agents. U.S. radar detected 90 such flights into Honduras last year, compared with 24 in 2008… in July, a semi-submersible “narco submarine” with $180 million worth of cocaine was caught by the U.S. Coast Guard in international waters off Honduras, the first such craft detected in the Caribbean. Since then, three more have been busted.
At nearly every business here, from Burger King to the smallest mini-market, armed men with 12-gauge shotguns stand guard. Those who can afford it barricade their families behind razor wire, 10-foot walls and electrified fencing.
“If a person kills someone and the next day they’re sitting in a restaurant drinking coffee as if nothing happened, then that person feels they have permission to kill anyone they want”…
Much of this goes to the United States continued approach to limiting drug use.  Limiting it by throwing everyone in prison with the net result of criminalizing much of our population.  The supply countries have tried ignoring the trade to limit violence within their own countries, but then they are flooded with cheap drugs on their way to the United States addicting their own, much poorer population, and with a super-rich drug oligarchy running their country.  When they try to clamp down on the cartels, violence explodes.  In the face of the illicit demand in the United States, I am not aware of any country that has effectively dealt with the transshipment problems. However, the Honduran collapse into violence is truly stunning.

2 comments:

Craig Cavanaugh said...

And yet the Honduran island of Roatan remains a bastion of Freedom and commerce. Interesting in that this relatively isolated, and very much mixed pedigree population seems able to steer clear of the mainland's troubles. Kinda gives legitimacy to my idea that small bands of like minded individuals are the natural way for humans to exist...

russell1200 said...

Yes, it is hard for the drug trade to get a hold, and the island is not on any needed route or the drug lords would probably just kill them all.

I saw a similar pieces on Elsalvador, and Ecuador is starting to have problems. Maybe all the moneybags who bought retreats in Ecuador will come running back.