Gang violence and homicides are often described as the main reason for violence in Honduras. However, this violence is rarely connected to corruption unless it includes money and power. Therefore, in my paper, I focus on how government corruption has been affecting the public sector, which has led to many deaths, high levels of migration, and street violence. In conclusion, corruption within the Honduran government developed a crisis of violence because there is no social security. Also, because the police do not protect people from organized crime that have caused most of the violence in the country. Their affiliation and silence for the drug trafficking and gang crimes have led to creating a system of impunity.
Alejandra Quiroz is a TV Production and Central American Studies student focused on immigration and Central American culture. She creates content about Central American people in the U.S. and the impact of immigrants within Los Angeles and their countries. Her paper was inspired by the constant injustices from the Honduran Government and the situation of her place of birth due to the violence in the public sector.
,After the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, corruption erupted in a high level of crime and economic breakdown. Many outside groups and political parties have been involved not only on the past fraudulent elections and the upcoming ones but on the missing money of public institutions and the connection of crime and police officials. In this paper, I am going to research how corruption in the Honduran government developed a crisis of violence and economic breakdown with a specific focus on the areas of government, public institutions, and armed forces. During the last decade, the government has invested heavily in the military and has forgotten to support local farmers for the domestic consumption of the country. Therefore, they have to import costlier products for the country’s consumption, which only the upper class can acquire easily. Although, many international companies had invested in the country for the “development of jobs,” these companies are within the neoliberal system that gives companies tax exemptions while also having no labor laws. Consequently, these jobs are marketed as cheap labor, which created a high level of poverty. People who work in these companies are not given a living wage to cover the minimum necessities of an individual and their household. Ultimately, the corruption within these three areas allowed the Honduran government to run extra-legal groups freely and openly with impunity. These extra-legal groups hold power in the government, yet they allowed bribery and corporatism to run rampant in the country.
Corruption Within Literature
Corruption, which was defined by Treisman, (2000) as the misuse of public office for private gain. Treisman, explains the result of historical and cultural traditions, levels of economic development, political institutions, and government policies can lead to a country to experience a high level of corruption. In the case of Honduras, economy crisis and government policies have led the nation to experience a high level of corruption within government institutions and public services. The Honduran population defines their current violence status as a form of survival due to the high levels of lack of justice in the system and ignorance of the government. Pine (2008) states, Hondurans perceive violence from different perspectives and different types of situations based on the individual’s life. Also, structural violence has developed a crisis for every Honduran citizen. Rivera (2013) states that the government and third parties have contributed to increasing state and social violence in the country with policies such as Mano Dura during the gang crisis in Central America. However, this policy which was created to fight gang violence, led to more gang violence and police violence along the way. Bosworth (2010) explains and quotes Attorney General Roy David Urtecho:
"Now they [MS-13 and M-18] wanted the real power. They had been seeking an understanding with the cartels in Mexico and Colombia, to establish themselves as legitimate traffickers instead of street-level thugs… Once they
After the Coup d’état of 2009 in Honduras, the numbers of murders and kidnappings increased, and very few crimes were solved. Some of the violence was political while other destruction was likely caused by organized crime. The development of crime, mainly in urban areas has increased the number of murders. In 2016, Honduras had a murder rate of 60 per 100,000, and it has not changed much for this current year. Berg & Carranza (2015) explain that violent crime has emerged as a growing development challenge, affecting large segments of societies and taking a severe toll on economic development. In many high crime environments, weak institutions, fiscal constraints, and political resistance have undermined the effectiveness of development programs and threatened their sustainability. The crime dynamics and prevention practices focus around nine neighborhoods in three of the most violent cities in Honduras: La Ceiba, El Progreso, and Choloma, and reveals the transnational drug trade, economic downturn, and political crisis. The high level of crime comes from the act of survival due to the financial crisis that Honduras has been going through more than a decade ago. Morris & Ropp, (1977) explains the Honduran economy growth has been affected by their dependency on the economical "support" of the U.S. However, the research is from the 1970s, which gives a background idea of where the economic crisis in Honduras was developed. Cordero (2009) explains that the current instability is worsening the country's economic downturn and also preventing Honduras from adopting the measures needed to counteract the effect of the global recession on the economy. Also, Cordero explains that cheap labor force and close political ties to the U.S., turned Honduras into an attractive site for multinational firms to locate their production facilities, especially textiles.
Furthermore, the current minimum wage in Honduras is 8,130.10Lps. per month, which converts to $345.52. per month. Gindling and Terrell, (2008) state that minimum wages affect more than half of the Honduran population. Also, the relative level of the minimum wage to the per capita poverty line that reflects the government's/society's view as to whether the minimum wage is meant to cover the basic needs of one worker or that of a family. In the United States, it is impossible to maintain a household with the minimum wage, which in California is $12 per hour. In Honduras with a small household of four people, $345.52 is nothing, and that is if they are fortunate to have a job. Moreover, the unemployment rate in Honduras is 7.40 percent in a country with only 8 million citizens.
When it comes to the political crisis, it is important to examine the Honduran coup of 2009, which not only increased high levels of crime and decreased the economic growth, but created a political crisis with a massive level of corruption in every public/private institution with a sense of impunity and injustice for those in power. Meyer (2013) elaborates on the relations between Honduras and the U.S. before, within, and after the coup. As a result of the overthrow of 2009, the situation in Honduras of poor security and human rights has continued to deteriorate under President Lobo. Human rights abuses—which increased significantly in the aftermath of Zelaya's ouster. These have led to a presence of organized crime, weak government institutions, and widespread corruption throughout the country. However today, with President Juan Orlando Hernandez, nothing has changed.
Crime has increased, and the Honduras international debt has risen. Olson, & Hyde, (2015) explains, the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) and the impact that will have on the Honduran community. Also, it examines the process for civil society and a desire of clearness and timely, transparency guaranteed, and access to documents — especially previous evaluations — that must be made public by the government of Honduras. However, due to the law of secrets (Ley de Secretos) pass by the Congress when President Juan Orlando Hernandez was the President of the Congress, and before he took over the Presidency, the access to government documents have only been kept to government officials’ access only.
THE INVISIBLE KILLER OF HONDURAS
The Honduran government has always been divided between two big political parties: El Partido Liberal and El Partido Nacional. These two political parties are the most influential in Honduras; however, within the past decade, the Honduran government has passed from a Liberal Government to a Coup d’état. On January 26, 2006, Manuel Zelaya a candidate from El Partido Liberal, took possession of the presidency after being elected. Three years later, on June 28, 2009, Zelaya, got deposed by a coup d’état. Many Hondurans believed that his affiliation with Castro and Chavez influenced Zelaya on his idea of making a referendum and then the public opinion poll for a re-elected president. Robinson and Ura (2010) explain, Zelaya's policies made a high-profile turn to the left by first taking Honduras into Petro Caribe, the is a subsidized petroleum program sponsored by Hugo Chavez's government. However, many of the Honduran population believed that the reason for the opinion poll was to re-elect himself because of his new left ideas. Nevertheless, the Honduran constitution, article 374 prohibits presidential re-election.
ARTICULO 374. - No podrán reformarse, en ningún caso, el artículo anterior, el presente artículo, los artículos constitucionales que se refieren a la forma de gobierno, al territorio nacional, al periodo presidencial, a la prohibición para ser nuevamente Presidente de la República, el ciudadano que lo haya desempeñado bajo cualquier título y el referente a quienes no pueden ser Presidentes de la República por el periodo subsiguiente.
Although many people concluded that Zelaya did not want to be re-elected, he wants to re-word some articles of the constitution that can be used in beneficial ways. After the coup d’état, the country got divided into three — Nacionalistas, Liberales and "Resistencia," who were the ones supporting Zelaya. Also, most of the coup d’état is done by the military, while they establish a military government. The Honduran coup d’état was not a military government, because of Roberto Micheletti, who at the time was the former president of the Congress and represented the same political party as Zelaya. Cassel (2009) explains that the United States joined in the 33-0 OAS vote, and how the Obama Administration stopped short of deeming Zelaya's ouster a "military coup," which would trigger a statutorily mandated suspension of U.S. intergovernmental foreign assistance to Honduras. On November of 2009, Honduras had the general election where El Partido Nacional won the polls with Porfirio Lobo as well as the following ones during November 2015 with Juan Orlando Hernandez, the current president. El Partido Nacional is one of the most questionable political parties due to proof of their affiliation to narcos, robbery of public institutions and fraudulent elections. Barrachina (2016) explains:
“La preocupación de Honduras en la Clase política por la infiltración del narcotráfico es evidente. Funcionarios del Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) y de la Comisión Nacional de Lucha contra el Narcotráfico (CNLCN) advirtieron en Febrero de 2013 sobre el peligro de que los narcotraficantes y el crimen organizado se infiltraran en los políticos que participarían en las elecciones generales.”
Corruption within the three states of power is divided into the executive, legislative, judicial power and the power of free expression of the media. The executive power is formed by the president and his/her presidential cabinet, which are the ministers of different areas. In the case of the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, he overpasses the Honduran Constitution due to his candidacy for re-election, which is unconstitutional. It also violates internal regulations such as the management of ministers. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Honduran ministers are not well prepared for the position, but they are the ones who have worked for the political party in power and often relatives of that president. For example, Hilda Hernandez, who is Juan Orlando Hernandez’s sister and is the current minister of strategy and communications within her brother’s cabinet.
In the legislative power, there are laws that have been approved to favor the bourgeoisie and the make of contracts for state assets favoring people who supported their political campaign. The deputies are not people with an educational burden that can create a better future or even contain the knowledge of laws to defend the higher law, the constitution. The approved of statutes may be approved for beneficiation of their political party or the individual itself. Currently, more than 50% of the deputies in Congress are under el Partido Nacional, the same political party as the current president. Therefore, the other half congress is divided into seven political parties, but those that correspond to the minority parties join the parties that offer more money to their pockets. In Judicial power, Honduran justice is not blind because it deals according to the social circle that belongs to each person. These have created social injustice due to the corruption of the judges that receive money to declare an individual guilty or innocent. Just like in the case of the college student, Kevin Solórzano who has been found guilty of murder in a former fiscal despite the scientific evidence that demonstrates that he is innocent.
In the power of free expression, the miscommunication since the executive, legislative and judicial power pays for certain news that the media cannot tell the public. Corruption in the power of free expression is the act of silence of the truth and keeping the people in ignorance. Many of the media are under bribery, so many of them do not inform the public of the corruption and violence crisis that the country is experiencing. For example, 84% of the country's media was paid for el Partido Nacional propaganda, who are currently in power and looking for reelection and control most of the legislative and judicial power.
The Honduran public institution, throughout the last decade, has been privatized by the monetary increase of services which affects the working class; because of the bids that are public, but the awarding of the management concession of public institutions to private companies are always involved in corruption by the people who manage the awarding of the public institutions. Therefore, because the state is not capable of managing their own companies, private companies administrate the institutions. However, they charge a certain percentage for their administration, and it results as the raising of prices of the public services. Many of these services do not provide quality services for their communities; for example, the water it is not drinkable, and the chemicals that are used are not high-quality to make the water drinkable for individuals. As a result, they get to experience no portable water, and it’s when people can get sick from diarrhea, cholera, and other ailments. In the health part, there are not quality medicines for the lower class, adequate facilities, or personnel. They make bids for low-quality medications that do not help patients to have better health or even to get better. Also, there are not enough facilities because the government does not give priority to the public health system since there are private health systems that correspond to the upper class to which the government belongs. Moreover, the health system’s budget is not much and it has to cover personnel, medication, facilities, and maintenance. In the case of energy and power, it tends to come and go from time to time which can affect anything electrical in the medical facilities. Also, the generators do not have the capacity of voltage for a city because most of the city’s energy depends on a hydroelectric center for which there are constant blackouts.
In the education system, teachers are involved in politics and are not trained in their area since a teacher can give an English class after they have graduated and have only taken two courses of Basic English. Also, credentials are granted by political affiliation not according to their educational level. In the transportation area, public transportation is not safe due to crime, the malfunctioning of vehicles and high cost and subsidy. A subsidy is a corruption type due to the mismanagement of the administration of the transport route.
The Honduran security system and its corruption are situated from the lowest rank to the highest level. Corruption is in different areas both in drug trafficking and in the organized crime. The drug trafficking protects cartels and groups in the illegal passage of the drug that passes through Honduras as it is an easy route to reach the United States. It is an easy route due to the lack of enforcement and the affiliation of the police and military of the drug passage. Narcos bribe both commanders and soldiers in the same way to the government to maintain their illicit trade. This action has developed a narco-government in the last eight years. Also, the origin of organized crime is due to young people and the lack of opportunities with high levels of poverty. These individuals then feel forced to belong to gangs to support their families since the government does not provide work for the development of young people in the country. The corruption of organized crime, especially in the largest cities of the country, is carried out by the gangs, which control the police, commerce and transport areas. The police are bribed to keep crimes unpunished. Also, the businesses and transport areas are charge taxes such as "the war tax" for the "free" circulation within the territory that they have marked. They are also involved in a murder on commission, due to drug trafficking.
In conclusion, corruption within the Honduran government developed a crisis of violence because there is no social security. Also, because the police do not protect people from organized crime that have caused most of the violence in the country. Their affiliation and silence for the drug trafficking and gang crimes have led to creating a system of impunity. Therefore, the silence in the government and the financial interest for themselves has led the country’s public sector to experience a lack of resources, as a result of the lack of monetary help from the government. Unfortunately, there cannot be change with the same individuals in power, whether is in the public or private sector.
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