Archive for the ‘narcos in Honduras’ Category

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández

A new report suggests that corruption in Honduras is not simply the product of malfeasance by individual actors, but rather comprises an institutionalized system that serves to benefit a tight circle of elites, mirroring other corrupt systems that have been uncovered in Latin America.

The report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, titled “When Corruption is the Operating System: The Case of Honduras,” highlights how a combination of historical factors has paved the way for the current corrupt political economy in the country.

The report’s author, Sarah Chayes, argues that “Honduras offers a prime example of … intertwined, or ‘integrated,’ transnational kleptocratic networks.”

In other words, powerful international business interests as well as criminal organizations with transnational ties have corrupted government institutions at various levels, with little resistance from public officials, who have also benefitted from this graft.

As InSight Crime noted in its investigative series on elites and organized crime in Honduras, the country’s economic history differs from that of most of its neighbors in the sense that “the most powerful economic elites have emerged from the service, banking, media, and telecommunications sectors,” rather than land-based agricultural and industrial sectors.

These “transnational elites,” often descended from Eastern European and Middle Eastern immigrants, have used both their international business ties as well as graft to further their economic interests. Similarly, both the “traditional” land-based elite and the “bureaucratic elite” — consisting primarily of military families and regional politicians — have engaged in corruption in order to maintain their socioeconomic status.

Chayes stresses that the three “spheres” of the kleptocratic system in Honduras — the public sector, the private sector and criminal elements — “retain a degree of autonomy, and are often disrupted by internal rivalry.” But at times, their interests do overlap and there may be a degree of coordination between them.

Echoing the findings of InSight Crime’s investigation, the report states that over “the past decade or so, both the elite public- and private-sector circles have been establishing increasingly close connections with the out-and-out criminal networks that run the narcotics trade as well as other types of smuggling, such as trafficking in people.”

And while the private and public sectors of the kleptocratic network are not identical, they are bound together by what Chayes calls an “elite bargain” that perpetuates corruption.

Chayes says that this dynamic may be intensifying under the administration of President Juan Orlando Hernández, who took office in 2014 and is currently leading the field among contenders in the presidential election scheduled for November.

The report argues that Hernández has made a “strategic effort” to consolidate government power in the executive branch, thereby strenghtening a close-knit network of elites with ties to the public, private and criminal sectors that already wield disproportionate political and economic control.

As one person interviewed for the report put it, “The politicians are at the service of the economic elite.”

Prior to becoming president in 2014, Hernández served as the president of congress, which is in charge of all congressional proceedings. During this time, Chayes claims a “favorable legislative climate” was created by passing laws that benefitted “private sector network members.”

For example, in 2010, the creation of the Commission for the Promotion of Public Private Partnerships essentially funneled “public financing into private contracts via a nontransparent bidding process,” the report found.

Consequently, Chayes explains that this allows the president to “personally direct or approve” public-private projects, including terms and purchase guarantees. And when marginal improvements in oversight were proposed in 2014, officials resisted the measures.

As president of congress and eventually as head of state, Hernández also oversaw several other policy initiatives that bolstered the power of the executive branch while weakening congress, the judiciary and other institutions that could help put a brake on graft.

Hernández has strengthened the role of the military in internal security operations, packed the judiciary with top officials favorable to his pro-business agenda, and instituted a sweeping “secrecy law” that classifies as secret information “likely to produce ‘undesired institutional effects,’ or whose dissemination might be ‘counter to the effective development of state policy or normal functioning of public sector institutions,'” the report states.

According to the report, “The bulk of the actions or inactions of these agencies has served to facilitate or defend revenue maximization for the principal private-sector network members, or has provided siphoning opportunities for public officials.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Sophisticated corruption schemes are nothing new in Latin America, and Honduras is not the only country where widespread graft has had negative consequences for society in terms of political representation, economic opportunity and human rights. However, corruption networks in different countries function in different ways. And understanding these differences is key to formulating effective solutions for rooting out graft.

The picture painted by Chayes’ report suggests that the dynamics of corruption in Honduras are more similar to those observed in Brazil, for example, than those seen in Guatemala.

Former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti created a “mafia state” system, in which Pérez and Baldetti acted as the bosses, overseeing various corruption schemes and taking a cut of all the graft occurring under their supervision. In Brazil, on the other hand, corruption is not as centralized; rather, it has become a “rule of the game” in business and politics.

The case of Honduras is more similar to that of Brazil in that there is no unified leadership of a grand corruption scheme, but rather a sort of “elite bargain” to play by the rules of a system that encourages and ensures impunity for engaging in graft.

This is perhaps best exemplified by elite resistance to establishing an internationally-backed anti-corruption body in Honduras, which eventually came into being early last year as the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH). This parallels Brazilian elites’ ongoing attempts to derail sweeping anti-corruption investigations targeting dozens of politicians, including the current president.

The main similarity among all three cases — Honduras, Brazil and Guatemala — is that corruption was used to further concentrate power in the hands of an already powerful elite.

In Honduras, for instance, officials and contractors siphoned massive amounts of money from the national social security system and used some of the booty to fund political campaigns for members of Hernández’s National Party (Partido Nacional) — something the president himself has admitted.

Similarly, in Guatemala, Pérez Molina and Baldetti were elected in 2011 in part thanks to illicit campaign contributions from businesses and individuals that they then paid back once in power by awarding their donors state contracts.

And in Brazil, a portion of bribes and kickbacks related to public works contracts was funneled into political campaigns and vote-buying in Congress, serving to enrich both private business interests as well as government officials on the take, while simultaneously ensuring the perpetuation of corruption.

Chayes says that the model of corruption represented by Honduras — and in certain respects mirrored in Brazil and Guatemala — is not unique to Latin America.

“This corruption model, I would say, is something that applies to some 60 or 70 countries around the world,” Chayes told InSight Crime. “And it works in different ways in each of those countries. However, there are the same kinds of overlaps between the public and private sectors where government institutions are bent to serve network purposes.”

Chayes stresses that moving forward it is important to first recognize today’s corruption as the “intentional operating system of sophisticated and successful networks.”

Today’s corruption is not merely “cash in an envelope,” Chayes argues, but involves powerful, often international networks of corrupt actors “writing the rules governing political and economic activity to their own benefit.”

In Honduras, U.S. deportees seek to journey north againdeported

 

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-honduras-deported-youths-20140816-story.html

By the time Isaias Sosa turned 14, he’d already seen 15 bullet-riddled bodies laid out in his neighborhood of Cabañas, one of the most violent in this tropical metropolis. He rarely ventured outside his grandmother’s home, fortified with a wrought iron gate and concertina wire.

But what pushed him to act was the death of his pregnant cousin, who was gunned down in 2012 by street gang members at the neighborhood gym. Sosa loaded a backpack, pocketed $500 from his mother’s purse, memorized his aunt’s phone number in Washington state and headed for southern Mexico, where he joined others riding north on top of one of the freight trains known as La Bestia, or the Beast.

Crossing the Rio Grande into Texas, Sosa was apprehended almost immediately by Border Patrol agents as he desperately searched for water.

After a second unsuccessful attempt to enter the U.S. last fall, he now spends most of his days cooped up at home, dreaming of returning yet again.

“Everywhere here is dangerous,” he said. “There is no security. They kill people all the time.”

“It’s a sin to be young in Honduras.”

Like thousands of other undocumented Honduran children deported after having journeyed unaccompanied to the U.S., Sosa faces perilous conditions in the violent neighborhood from which he sought to escape.

“There are many youngsters who only three days after they’ve been deported are killed, shot by a firearm,” said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. “They return just to die.”

At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S., Hernandez said.

Immigrant aid groups and human rights organizers say the Honduran government is ill-equipped to assist children at high risk after they have been returned.

San Pedro Sula had 187 killings per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Honduras’ overall homicide rate was 90 per 100,000 in 2012, the highest in the world, much of it fueled by gang and drug-trafficking violence.

Unaccompanied children from Honduras “come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to staying at home,” the report said.

In one case, a teenage boy was shot to death hours after arriving in San Pedro Sula on a deportation flight, according to the boy’s cousin, who refused to identify himself or the boy to The Times for fear of reprisal from neighborhood gangs.

To do so, he said, “I would be killing my entire family.”

He said his cousin had left for Los Angeles after his family received several threats from the Barrio 18 gang. His mother and sister moved to a different neighborhood while the boy headed for the U.S. They simply abandoned their house in Chamelecon, one of the city’s roughest areas.

Some neighborhoods feel like tropical ghost towns because scores of residents have fled the violence fomented by two of the country’s most notorious gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18.

A faded Polaroid sent from the U.S. and a torn-out page from a coloring book are the only indications of life in one abandoned home in the Palmira neighborhood.

The San Pedro Sula morgue reports 594 homicides in the surrounding northwestern region as of mid-July. A total of 778 people were slain last year.

Valdete Wileman, a nun who runs the Center for Returned Migrants in San Pedro Sula, said about 80% of the children who had been returned from the U.S. had been seeking to escape the gang violence.

Wileman said she was particularly concerned about children who once served as gang lookouts.

“Some of these children are threatened with their lives,” she said. “And now they are being forced to return to the same place.”

Other children head for the U.S. after the rest of their families have been killed. Although some of these deportees move to other neighborhoods here, many don’t have the money to relocate. And the gangs, with ties throughout the country, could track them down anyway.

Wileman said she has neither the resources nor the means to help, because the government barely funds the center.

“This is the responsibility of the government. This is the responsibility of the entrepreneurs who run this country … those who are in power,” she said. “All I can do is pray.”

Just a few days after Sosa, now 19, was deported from the U.S., he was shot at by gang members while walking to the corner store for a soda. He said he didn’t have allegiances with any gang and didn’t know why he was targeted.

His second unsuccessful emigration attempt came after a friend was fatally shot and left to die in a neighborhood alley.

While saving money for a third attempt, he rarely steps outside the front door, declining birthday party invitations and shunning soccer games in the neighborhood.

“If you leave your home, you don’t know if you’ll return.”

He knows the trip north will be perilous but says he doesn’t see any choice.

“What am I going to do?” he said. “It’s more dangerous to stay here.”

So when it’s time to again depart, he’ll do what he did before: He’ll get out his backpack, but he won’t tell a soul, fearing word may get out to gang members who’ll prevent him from leaving.

cindy.carcamo@latimes.com

The Deadly, Invisible Borders Inside El Salvador When the threats come, there is only one direction for families to run

(while this article is mainly about El Salvador, its relevance to Honduras is obvious)
By
 http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119027/border-crisis-what-refugees-are-escaping-central-america

Last April, in the town of Izalco in the western state of Sonsonate, El Salvador, a group of families decided to dismantle the makeshift houses of wood and tin where they had been living for up to 26 years. The scene unfolded on a rural stretch of land known as the San Luis Ranch, where the families had built up a shantytown. The Mara Salvatrucha gang, which is blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department, had targeted one of the residents, and that meant all the families felt they had no choice but to move.

In the United States, you are having a debate over immigration. But many of the Central Americans now coming into the United States never wanted to leave their country. For them, the proper verb is not migrar, but huirto flee. The breaking point for the residents of San Luis Ranch came when members of the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, kidnapped Gerardo, a 22-year-old man from the settlement. That same night, Gerardo’s father, a 45-year-old farm laborer, went to the nearest police post to file a missing-person report. The police told him they couldn’t help him because they were using the area’s only patrol car to transport a sick woman. The next morning, Gerardo’s father and a few neighbors and rural police officers set off to look for him. They combed the foothills of the Izalco Volcano until they came to a hamlet called Cangrejera where a storm of gunshots stopped them cold. None of the shooters, the police would later estimate, were older than 15. Gerardo’s father and some of the other farm laborers thought they had caught a glimpse of a tied-up Gerardo being dragged away by the gang members who were shooting at them. Gerardo’s father chased after the child-thugs until a bullet caught him in the head.

But why was Gerardo abducted in the first place? According to the police, the young MS-13 members were provoked by Gerardo’s visits to his grandfather, who lived in a nearby subdivision ruled by the rival 18th Street Gang. No gang likes it when people living on their turf cross over to another’s. They fear that their enemy will take advantage by buying out their subjects and using them to attack from within. A visit to a relative becomes treason. In such ways does the violence in Central America reach people of all ages, not just the minors who fill news reports about the immigration crisis.

The packing up of the settlement on San Luis Ranch was speedy and grim. A police squad stood by to protect neighbors from attacks while they dismantled their homes. That was the police’s only role: to watch over the escape.

Having problems with MS-13 or the 18th Street Gang means having problems with a criminal army. According to the Salvadoran Ministry of Public Security and Justice, there are some 60,000 active gang members in a country that has little more than 6.1 million inhabitants and barely spans 8,100 square miles. There are cliques of the main gangs in all 14 of El Salvador’s states. The state of Morazán has the fewest cliques with eight; San Salvador has the most with 216. The cliqueswith names like Hollywood Locos Salvatrucha or Southern Tiny Locoscan be made up of adolescents armed with .38 caliber revolvers like the group of kids who killed Gerardo’s father, or they can be like the Fulton Locos Salvatrucha. When the police raided a Fulton Locos stronghouse, they found an arsenal, seizing more than ten AK-47s and M-16 rifles, as well as a dozen M-67 grenades.

Reuters/Daniel LeClair
The aftermath of an attack on a public bus in Guatemala City.

On top of such firepower, the gangs have developed effective systems of surveillance and security, and they like to use these to humiliate the authorities. This past May, for example, the Salvadoran director of forensic medicine announced that a number of his technicians were extorted after entering gang territory to retrieve bodies.

You probably have read that El Salvador and Honduras have had the highest homicide rates in the world over the past ten years. But to put the numbers in proper perspective: In Mexico, when the violence caused by warring murderous organized crime groups like Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel peaked in 2011, the country ranked only fourteenth for per capita killings, with an average of 22.8 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations. Honduras, now ranked first, has 90 for every 100,000 people. El Salvador is right behind it. In 2013 alone, the gang violence of this frightened corner of the world claimed 15,328 lives.

Both of Central America’s major gangs were founded decades ago in California, by Latin American migrants who banded together in order to defend themselves from gangs already ruling there. By the mid-’90s, the U.S. government had decided it was a good idea to deport thousands of gang members each year, many of whom had committed small crimes. The gangs grew quickly and are still spreading. The United States seemed to have forgotten the golden rule of migration. Forgotten that migration works like a boomerang. There are cliques of MS-13, such the Sailors Locos Salvatrucha, that formed in El Salvador but whose members are now migrating to Washington, D.C.

Joining a gang isn’t something you can take back. Once you’re in, there are only two ways to get out: by dying or running. And merely joining is a nightmare: To become a member, you need to murder. In the last three years, the gangs have required aspiring members to kill somebody before they can join the ranks.

They kill to join because the legitimate occupations available to them can feel like a different kind of death. El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have devastating levels of inequality. The United Nations has flagged the countries as among the most unequal in the Americas. Many have very little; very few have way too much. In El Salvador, the minimum wage requires that a farm worker be paid just $113.70 a month for his or her brutal twelve-hour days of labor. Other pathslike joining a gangcan seem, at least at a glance, more appealing. Children buckle under the enormous recruiting pressure. Who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps when his father is an exploited laborer? Each clique sends most of its earnings to its top bosses, most of whom are in jail. But the leftovers are enough to share among the foot soldiers. The money and the opportunity to go to war are stronger attractions for many young men than the misery of waking up at four in the morning for a long day of work under the sun, then returning to their clapboard homes at night to eat beans and tortillas and, for all of their toil, receiving nothing but an insulting wage at the end of the month.

When a family keeps its children out of the gangs, the gangs have a way of still getting to the family. The case of the former residents of San Luis Ranch repeats itself ceaselessly. Every month, you see a newspaper headline announcing a new group abandoning their homes. The families are threatened for all sorts of reasons: because their sons didn’t want to join a gang, because a family member filed a police report, because they won’t let a gang member rape their daughter. Or simply because they visited their grandfather in enemy territory.

Pushed out of their neighborhoods, the families are recast as wanderers, bouncing from house to house until they can find a new community, which will likely be controlled by the same gang that forced them to flee in the first place. Or it will be controlled by the rival, which is just as bad: The 18th Street Gang would never accept an MS-13 family moving into their neighborhood, and vice-versa. The families scatter with the threat chasing closely after. Any day, the clique that runs their new neighborhood will figure out why they left their old one and then, most likely, kill them. Many of these people will never find the safety they sought when they gave up their homes.

It’s only natural that someone who can’t find a corner in which to hide in his own country would consider migrating to the United States to join relatives already there. And now, decades after the civil wars that led to the last great exodus, Central America is facing another war: a war prompted by the gangs’ takeover of our weak and corrupt states. It’s a war in which the United States has its share of responsibility, just as it had its share of responsibility when the U.S. government supported the military dictators in the ’80s and ’90s. Last year, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Obama administration deported an average of 59 Salvadorans a day, a number much higher than the rate under George W. Bush. The deportations are meant as a deterrent, but the fleeing continues. The Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador estimated that every day between 200 and 300 Salvadorans leave their country en route to the United States as undocumented immigrants. And of course this is not counting the daily departures from Honduras and Guatemala.

There is an alternative to fleeing. And that is to stay and become a living ghost. For the past two years, I’ve been in touch with a 31-year-old ex-member of the Hollywood Locos Salvatrucha who testified against members of his own clique. The Public Prosecutor’s Office used him for three years to build cases against 42 gang members accused of nine murders and multiple extortions. Then the authorities abandoned him. In order to survive, he lives like a nomad in the western mountains of El Salvador. He knows firsthand that the gangs are everywhere, that they are out there, hunting.

Óscar Martínez is the author of The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail and a writer for ElFaro.net.

Entre el crimen y la zozobra seis bandas criminales controlan un sector de San Pedro Sula

Por tercer año consecutivo y con una tasa de 187 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, San Pedro Sula lidera el ranking de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo. La cantidad de crímenes que ocurren en esta urbe localizada a 200 kilómetros al norte de Tegucigalpa, la ubican como la más peligrosa, por encima de Caracas en Venezuela y Acapulco en México.

San Pedro Sula también es la segunda ciudad más importante de Honduras y es considerada la capital industrial del país, su extensión territorial es de 898.6 kilómetros cuadrados que albergan a una población aproximada de 800,000 habitantes. De estos, 150 mil residen en el sector Rivera Hernández, comunidad localizada al noreste de la ciudad y comprendida en 39 colonias, que han sido ubicadas entre las más violentas de esta urbe.
Fuentes consultadas por Revistazo han establecido que en el año 2013 San Pedro Sula registró 1,458 muertes violentas, de las cuales 187 se ejecutaron en comunidades que le pertenecen al sector Rivera Hernández. Una zona secuestrada casi en su totalidad por el crimen organizado. La tasa de homicidios en este sector de San Pedro Sula es de 124.6 por cada 100,000 habitantes.

Seis bandas operan en el sector

En el sector Rivera Hernández operan al menos seis bandas delictivas, dedicadas al tráfico de drogas, extorsiones, sicariato, robo de vehículos, venta ilegal de armas y asaltos.  Es común, escuchar en la zona nombres como el de Los Olanchanos, Los Tercereños, Los Vatos Locos, Los Ponce, la MS y la 18, cuando la gente se refiere a la ejecución de un crimen.
El avance de la criminalidad y la falta de políticas claras de seguridad y de justicia de parte del Estado han provocado que muchas comunidades en Honduras se hayan convertido en tierra de nadie, al ser controladas por diversas bandas delictivas. La situación no deja por fuera al sector Rivera Hernández, zona considerada violenta, y donde solo hay presencia de 83 miembros de la policía preventiva, entre oficiales, agentes de escala básica y personal auxiliar.
Bajo el mando del sub comisionado, Víctor  Gómez Aguilar, en este sector tiene su base la Unidad Metropolitana número 8, estación  que mantiene en asignación  5 radios patrullas y 20 motocicletas. Su oficina principal se encuentra en la colonia Rivera Hernández y una subestación en la colonia  Asentamientos Humanos.
De los 187 homicidios ocurridos el año pasado en este sector, la Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra la Vida solo registra haber recibido cinco expedientes investigados. Los hechores de estos cinco casos fueron capturados de manera infraganti por la policía preventiva. Es decir, no hay trabajo de la Dirección Nacional de Investigación Criminal (DNIC) que evidencie voluntad en el gobierno para combatir el crimen y la impunidad en este conflictivo lugar. Revistazo conoció que varios expedientes investigativos iniciados por la DNIC no cuentan ni con el acta de levantamiento de la víctima.

Pero, ¿Quién es el responsable?

Un agente de la DNIC asignado a la regional de San pedro Sula y que por su protección pidió omitir su nombre, culpó a la Secretaría de Seguridad de estar detrás de la falta de investigación criminal.
Mencionó limitantes como la falta de personal, falta de vehículos, y acciones en el marco de la “depuración” que han entorpecido el labor de los investigadores.
La Unidad de Delitos Contra la Vida de la DNIC en San Pedro Sula cuenta con 21 agentes asignados a la sección de homicidios, 4 a la muerte de mujeres, 6 a la de muertes de impacto y 5 a la de muerte de menores. “Todas las unidades tienen limitantes por falta de personal, excepto la de muertes de impacto, que es la que recibe la ayuda de la Embajada Americana”, expresó.

 

La patrulla de levantamientos está chocada y tenemos 2 carros arruinados que  para arreglarlos  se necesitan como 60 mil en cada uno”

Agente entrevistado por Revistazo.

La sección de  homicidios solo cuenta con dos vehículos, uno destinado a la labor de investigación y el otro que se mantiene en operaciones de turno. No obstante, las secciones de muertes de impacto y la de muerte de menores cuentan con un automotor cada una.

La misma fuente también sostuvo que las mismas autoridades al implementar la depuración policial entorpecen las labores investigativas, mediante acciones como la suspensión de operaciones desde junio hasta diciembre de 2013, ordenada por el Ministro de Seguridad, Arturo Corrales Álvarez. Por disposición de las autoridades el personal de la DNIC pasó los últimos tres meses del año pasado en las instalaciones del Instituto Técnico Policial, de la ciudad de La Paz.
Además, dijo que en el marco de la depuración policial varios detectives con experiencia en la investigación de homicidios fueron trasladados a la unidad de Robo de Vehículos o a la Policía Preventiva y que los expedientes que ellos llevaban quedaron en el abandono al ser asignados a investigadores que ya contaban con sobrecarga de casos.

Sobrecargados

Los agentes asignados a homicidios, muerte de mujeres y muerte de menores, están obligados a investigar todos los crímenes que ocurren en San Pedro Sula, Choloma, La Lima, San Manuel, Villa Nueva, Potrerillos, Pimienta, Santa Cruz de Yojoa y San Antonio Cortés. No obstante, a los investigadores de muertes de impacto se les suman los crímenes  ocurridos en El Progreso, Puerto Cortes, Tela, La Ceiba y Colón. Ellos investigan homicidios de periodistas, abogados y homosexuales, entre otros.
Al hacer la comparación del número de investigadores y la cantidad de crímenes que están obligados a atender, es fácil deducir que son mínimos los resultados que pueden esperarse en términos de combate a la criminalidad. Considerando que son responsables de investigar la mayoría de los 2,257 que ocurren al año en el departamento de Cortes, si los 36 agentes asignados a San Pedro Sula se repartieran en partes iguales los expedientes de homicidios, estaríamos hablando de un total de 63 casos cada uno por año—más de uno por semana.
Según estadísticas del Observatorio de la Violencia a nivel nacional, aproximadamente  el 8% de las víctimas de homicidio en el 2013 fueron mujeres adultas y 9% menores de edad de ambos sexos. Aplicando estos porcentajes a la repartición de agentes de investigación entre los diferentes equipos de la Unidad de Delitos Contra la Vida en San Pedro, de los 36 agentes en total, los equipos de delitos contra mujeres y menores deberían contar con 3 agentes cada uno. Sin embargo, cuentan con más (4 y 5, respectivamente). Tomando en cuenta además que 6 agentes están asignados a los casos emblemáticos, esta situación dejaría a los 21 agentes de la sección de homicidios trabajando en un promedio de 86 investigaciones cada uno.
A esta sobrecarga de trabajo también deben sumarse los homicidios que se han ido acumulando de años anteriores y los suceden en la actualidad.
Ante esa situación la sociedad se pregunta: ¿cuántos crímenes  de los 187 ocurridos el año pasado en la Rivera Hernández podrán resolverse a través de sentencias condenatorias? ¿Cuántos agentes de la DNIC dedican tiempo a investigar estos crímenes?, la interrogante queda en el ambiente y  de las acciones solo se percibe falta de voluntad en el gobierno para combatir la impunidad.

Pandilleros se reparten el territorio  

La impotencia demostrada por el Estado en el combate de la criminalidad y la impunidad que impera en el país ha provocado que gran parte del territorio nacional se encuentre  en poder de las bandas criminales. El sector de la Rivera Hernández no es la excepción.
Para el caso, la banda de “Los Olanchanos”, dedicada a operaciones de sicariato, venta de drogas, extorsiones, robo de vehículos y tráfico de armas, realiza sus operaciones en las colonias Valle de Sula, Asentamientos Humanos, Rivera Hernández, Ciudad Satélite, Sandoval Sorto y La Pradera. Recientemente el cabecilla  de esta banda, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, fue capturado por orden de un tribunal de justicia que mantiene en su contra una acusación por homicidio.
La Banda de “Los Tercereños”, es una organización formada por disidentes de la mara 18 que operan en una parte de la colonia Rivera Hernández, colonia Sinaí y El Tamarindo. Las Brisas del Sauce y otro sector de la colonia Rivera Hernández, forman parte del territorio escogido por “Los Vatos Locos”  para llevar a cabo sus fechorías.
Tiempos atrás, los miembros de la Banda de “Los Ponce” fueron parte de la mara Salvatrucha (MS) y fue fundada por Cristian Ponce (ya fallecido). Ellos,  operan en la colonia Cerrito Lindo y la colonia Central, mientras que la MS abarca los territorios de Asentamientos Humanos y Seis de Mayo.
En el sector, también se encuentra la Pandilla18, cuyos miembros realizan acciones  en las colonias Asentamientos Humanos, Seis de Mayo, Mi Rey, Cerrito Lindo, Celeo Gonzales y Puerto Escondido, zona limítrofe con la colonia Ciudad Planeta.
Según la policía, la Pandilla 18 es la organización delictiva con la que más enfrentamientos han tenido en el sector, situación que ha provocado  la muerte de seis pandilleros. Reportes policiales indican el decomiso de fusiles AK47, Galil, R15, Uzi, gorros de pasamontañas, chalecos antibalas y otros enseres.
“Todas estas organizaciones delictivas se dedican al sicariato, violaciones, venta de drogas, extorsiones, robo de vehículos y asaltos, entre otros delitos”, expresó la fuente protegida de revistazo.

Masacres

En los últimos cuatro años Honduras ha sido víctima de un recrudecimiento de la violencia, situación que también la vemos reflejada en al menos cuatro asesinatos múltiples o masacres registradas en el sector Rivera Hernández, casos que en su mayoría quedaron en la impunidad por la falta de investigación criminal.
En Octubre de 2010, el campo de futbol de la colonia Felipe Zelaya fue escenario de la masacre de 15 personas en un enfrentamiento entre la Pandilla 18 y la banda de los Olanchanos. “Miembros de la Pandilla 18 llegaron al lugar a buscar a un hermano de Miguel Carrión, miembro de la banda de Los Olanchanos, pero este huyó del lugar junto a gran parte de la banda, lo que provocó que personas inocentes perdieran la vida”, señala la fuente protegida.
En Julio de 2013, en la colonia Asentamientos Humanos perdieron la vida cuatro personas, supuestamente a manos de miembros de la banda de “Los Olanchanos”. Hasta hoy no se ha investigado el crimen, pero la policía presume que los fallecidos  eran miembros de la Pandilla 18 y que todo se debió a pleitos entre bandas.
En un supuesto enfrentamiento con la policía seis miembros de la Pandilla 18 fallecieron en septiembre del 2013 en la colonia Cerrito Lindo, la fuente dijo que los fallecidos portaban armas de grueso calibre. Afirmó,  que situación similar ocurrió en marzo recién pasado en la colonia Mi Rey, cuando cinco supuestos miembros de la 18, perdieron la vida al enfrentarse con la policía cuando los agentes trataron de rescatar a dos personas que los pandilleros habían raptado.

US Embassy, DEA Obstructing Investigation into Drug War Killings in Honduras PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sandra Cuffe and Karen Spring
Monday, 29 July 2013 06:18
A Honduran soldier in a classroom at Forward Operating Base Mocoron, one of the three outposts from which they and Americans combat drug trafficking, in eastern Honduras, March 15, 2012. (Photo: Tomas Munita / The New York Times) Source: Truthout

More than a year has passed since a DEA-assisted drug war operation in the Honduran Moskitia killed four indigenous Miskitu civilians, and relatives of the victims are still looking for answers.

Responses have been few and far between. Honduran judicial authorities highlight a lack of cooperation from the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, impeding their investigation. A leaked State Department memo suggests high-level interference in the United States’ own investigation. And a local police official in the remote Moskitia region in northeastern Honduras told Truthout that destruction of evidence by the DEA is a regular occurrence in the area.

In the early morning of May 11, 2012, a boat carrying 16 passengers was approaching the public docking site on the Patuca River in the town of Ahuas. The passenger boat was hit by rounds of automatic gunfire fired from US State Department-owned helicopters flown by private contractors carrying DEA Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) agents and vetted Honduran Tactical Response Team agents. Four boat passengers were killed: two women, a 14-year-old boy and a young man. Three other individuals were badly injured.

Marlen Zelaya Jackson traveled from the Moskitia to the capital to find out what was going on with the investigation, including the case of her sister, Juana Jackson Ambrocio. The mother of two children, Jackson Ambrocio was 26 weeks pregnant when she was shot and killed while heading home on the river.

“We’re seeking justice. So they need to at least say something!” Zelaya Jackson told Truthout in an interview in Tegucigalpa, referring to officials at the US Embassy. “I don’t know what’s happening.”

A single mother, Zelaya Jackson is now taking care of her sister’s two orphaned children, 2 and 10 years old, as well as her own children.

“They killed her there, and now she’s not here. I’m in charge of [the kids] now. The little boy is still young. He’s still bottle-fed,” she said, urging the US embassy to at least provide some answers. “They don’t know how I make out caring for these two kids too, now that they’re my responsibility. So they need to at least do something. Respond! Do that! Or talk to the Honduran government so they speak and at least do something!”

Zelaya Jackson wasn’t able to get many answers about her sister’s case from the attorney general’s office in Tegucigalpa. But she did learn that Honduran judicial authorities are pointing the finger at the US embassy for impeding the investigation.

At a June 13, 2012, meeting, John Cesar Mejia, coordinator of the office of the special attorney for human rights, the office in charge of the investigation, told Truthout, that the US embassy has been asked to hand over the names of the DEA agents involved in the Ahuas killings, but have refused. The embassy also has not allowed ballistic tests on the weapons of the foreign agents that participated, Mejia said.

The bodies were buried in three locations in the Moskitia – Barra Patuca, Ahuas and Puerto Lempira. On June 22 and 23, 2012, a forensic pathologist and Honduran judicial authorities, accompanied by several soldiers from the Honduran Air Force, traveled to the grave sites to exhume the cadavers of the four victims to autopsy the bodies. The autopsies were conducted right at the gravesites in broad daylight while a large crowd that had congregated looked on. Relatives of the victims were horrified. Armando Perez, a former Texas police detective working with the US embassy in Honduras, was present, providing technical support, according to Collateral Damage of a Drug War, a report by Annie Bird of Rights Action and Alex Main of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).

Clara Woods Rivas was on the boat on May 11, 2012, when it was fired upon. She survived, but her youngest child, 14-year-old Hasked Brooks Wood, was killed. The autopsy was yet another traumatic experience, she told Truthout in an interview, struggling with Spanish, her second language after Miskito.

“If it had been known that they would not respond after the autopsy, we wouldn’t have allowed them to take the body out, out in the open, in front of people,” said Wood Rivas. “It hurt me so much. I cried and cried.”

Zelaya Jackson also regrets giving permission, in retrospect, but the families were not notified before the day of the autopsy. When the forensic pathologist and accompanying team were finished, body parts were left outside of the grave.

“We wouldn’t have permitted that, but I don’t know,” she said. “At the time, when they were doing it, I don’t know why I gave permission for them to do it. So we allowed all that to happen in front of everyone. Like a dog, they did it, and now they don’t even give answers.”

The official Honduran government report of the incident was conducted by the 0ffice of the special attorney for human rights and released more than a year after Zelaya Jackson lost her sister. Testimonies from key witnesses from the community of Ahuas, DEA agents and US private contractors were neither gathered nor included in the Honduran government’s report.

Shortly after the official Honduran government report was presented to the US State Department by the Honduran attorney general, 58 members of US Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, noting “inquiries into the matter have been perfunctory, and deeply flawed.” The letter, dated January 30, 2013, calls for an investigation, but behind the scenes, a State Department investigation may have been suppressed.

On June 12, 2013, the New York Post reported that an internal memo leaked by State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, citing attempts to quash State Department investigations, was included in the investigation into the Ahuas killings. According to the section of the October 2012 memo published online by the CEPR, a “case agent interviewed Assistant Secretary [of State] for INL [the Bureau of International Narcotics and Legal Enforcement Affairs], William Brownfield, who reportedly was not forthcoming and gave the impression he believed [the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security] should not pursue the investigation.”

Brownfield has vehemently denied the allegations. “The issue was never whether the incident would be investigated, but rather which US government organization would review the involvement of US law enforcement support of a foreign police operation overseas,” he told Foreign Policy blog The Cable.

The memo concludes that, “to date DEA has not cooperated with DS and the investigation cannot proceed further,” but it isn’t the first time investigators have had trouble with the DEA.

According to Oswaldo Perez Suazo, departmental chief of police in Puerto Lempira, the departmental capital of Gracias a Dios, the mess left for Honduran investigators by the DEA in the case of the Ahuas killings is par for the course. Commanding a total of 59 police officers deployed throughout the department, the police station is in front of an unpaved landing strip utilized as the regional airport and run by the Honduran military. Sitting in his air-conditioned office to escape the tropical heat, Perez Suazo read from police files, commenting on the DEA’s conduct in drug interdiction operations in the region.

“[The plane] was burned by members of the DEA. They themselves lit the plane on fire,” he said, referring to a plane carrying a cocaine shipment. “It could have been used for the investigation, but the truth is in that moment, what I have observed is an empowerment on the part of the DEA agents during their operations, and despite the fact that police officials and members of the national police are with them, they do not share information with the national police. They are empowered as if they are in their own territory. I have seen that what interests them is the drugs. They confiscate the drugs and take them with them. Then they take off and leave us there with the bodies, with the people that have been arrested, with everything.”

When asked about the four civilians killed in Ahuas, Perez Suazo admitted that the boat and its passengers were simply traveling on the river, one of the principal modes of transportation in the Moskitia. “Here there are only two ways to get around: by air or by boat. People that have money or can pay for a plane, arrive by taxi here to go and visit other municipalities,”he said at a July 15, 2012, meeting in Puerto Lempira, as he pointed in the direction of the regional airport. “But individuals who do not have money utilize boats to move around and that is how the [death of four Moskitia residents] occurred … resulting in four deceased people that had nothing to do [with drug trafficking]. It appears that the [joint US-Honduran forces] were confused because, in general, they use night-vision goggles and from the air it is difficult to determine [those involved].”

Although the DEA insists that it was present only in an advisory role and that only Honduran police officers opened fire, the number of different security forces involved in the May 2012 operation has made it hard to determine exactly who did what. “According to Honduran authorities, the operation included 13 Honduran police agents, four State Department helicopters with mounted machine guns, eight US government-contracted pilots and 10 US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents,” write Bird and Main in their April 2013 report, Still Waiting for Justice.

The regional drug war encompassing the joint DEA-Honduran interdiction operations is being fought under the banner of the US-led Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). According to the State Department’s website, the US has provided $496 million since 2008 to Central American countries for “capacity enhancements for public security, law enforcement and justice sector actors and institutions, and the rule of law agencies and personnel.” A significant area of interest for the US embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, has been the promotion of security and police reform and an overhaul of the attorney general’s office. The embassy views this as a way of battling corruption, institutional weakness of the judiciary and investigative capabilities and rampant human rights violations by state forces.

Despite the US efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Honduras, DEA-led drug operations have raised questions by human rights organizations regarding transparency and chain of command during these operations. Speaking to a North American human rights delegation just 16 days after the May 11, 2012 incident in Ahuas, the US Embassy’s DEA attaché, James Kenney, said members of the vetted Honduran task force “don’t have a chain of command like most units. They don’t have a lieutenant, captain, major. They report directly to me – the DEA.”

Operating outside of Honduran chains of command, it remains unclear how Honduran state structures – particularly when evidence is destroyed during the operations by the DEA itself – can conduct thorough and reliable investigations leading to arrests and, ultimately, justice.

Despite the ongoing judicial, police and investigative reforms, Clara Woods Rivas and Marlen Zelaya Jackson had to leave Tegucigalpa without any definitive answers as to exactly what happened on the other end of the barrels of the guns that killed their loved ones last year. Via bus, pickup truck and small motorized boat, they traveled more than 15 hours back to their modest wooden homes in Ahuas. Together with other relatives of the killed and injured passengers, the women continue to hope that the national and foreign agents will be held responsible for the deaths of indigenous civilians caught in the crossfire of drug war policies.

Copyright, Truthout

WikiLeaks Honduras: US Linked to Brutal Businessman

Miguel Facussé, a biofuels magnate entangled with the drug trade, is waging a bloody war against campesinos—with American support.

Dana Frank

Since 2009, beneath the radar of the international media, the coup government ruling Honduras has been collaborating with wealthy landowners in a violent crackdown on small farmers struggling for land rights in the Aguán Valley in the northeastern region of the country. More than forty-six campesinos have been killed or disappeared. Human rights groups charge that many of the killings have been perpetrated by the private army of security guards employed by Miguel Facussé, a biofuels magnate. Facussé’s guards work closely with the Honduran military and police, which receive generous funding from the United States to fight the war on drugs in the region.

New Wikileaks cables now reveal that the US embassy in Honduras—and therefore the State Department—has known since 2004 that Miguel Facussé is a cocaine importer. US “drug war” funds and training, in other words, are being used to support a known drug trafficker’s war against campesinos.

Miguel Facussé Barjum, in the embassy’s words, is “the wealthiest, most powerful businessman in the country,” one of the country’s “political heavyweights.” The New York Times recently described him as “the octogenarian patriarch of one of the handful of families controlling much of Honduras’ economy.” Facussé’s nephew, Carlos Flores Facussé, served as president of Honduras from 1998 to 2002. Miguel Facussé’s Dinant corporation is a major producer of palm oil, snack foods, and other agricultural products. He was one of the key supporters of the military coup that deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

Miguel Facussé’s power base lies in the lower Aguán Valley, where campesinos originally settled in the 1970s as part of an agrarian reform strategy by the Honduran government, which encouraged hundreds of successful campesino cooperatives and collectives in the region. Beginning in 1992, though, new neoliberal governments began promoting the transfer of their lands to wealthy elites, who were quick to take advantage of state support to intimidate and coerce campesinos into selling, and in some cases to acquire land through outright fraud. Facussé, the biggest beneficiary by far of these state policies, now claims at least 22,000 acres in the lower Aguán, at least one-fifth of the entire area, much of which he has planted in African palms for an expanding biofuel empire.

Campesino living standards in the region, meanwhile, have eroded dramatically. In December 2009 thousands of organized campesinos began staging collective recuperations of lands in the lower Aguán that they argue were stolen from them, or else legally promised to them by the government through previous agreements or edicts.

The campesinos’ efforts have been met with swift and brutal retaliation. According to Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH), the independent, highly respected human rights group, at least forty-four have been killed, at least sixteen this past summer alone. The victims include leaders of groups such as the Movimiento Unificado de Campesinos de Aguán (MUCA), which is involved in land occupations, but also members of stable communities that have been in place for decades, such as Guadalupe Carney, Rigores or Prieta, whose residents believed they had secure title to their holdings. According to a recent statement by Human Rights Watch calling for investigation, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for any of these murders.

Many of these killings and related attacks have been attributed to Miguel Facussé’s private security guards, as well those of his associates. Known locally as sicarios or hired assassins, they wear either plainclothes or Grupo Dinant uniforms and are reported to number between 200 and 300. Facussé himself admits that on November 15, 2010, his guards shot and killed five campesinos from the MUCA at the El Tumbador community. A July 2011 report from a joint fact-finding mission from the World Council of Churches, Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International, and other international groups on the killings of campesinos in the Aguán, states: “In all cases, according to witnesses and members of the peasant movements, the security guards working for Miguel Facussé and René Morales are seen to be the primary actors,” including in the deaths of three MUCA members on August 17, 2010.

Alleged assassinations and armed attacks by Facussé’s guards continue. On October 5, Facussé’s security guards allegedly shot at and gravely injured two MUCA members at the San Isidro campesino community, according to FIAN. On October 11 at La Aurora, FIAN and other human rights groups report, at least six security guards on lands claimed by Facussé’s Dinant Corporation, together with police and military forces, shot and killed Santos Serfino Zelaya Ruiz, 33, and opened fire on fifteen women spreading salt, who hid for hours afterwards in the palm trees.

On January 8, 2011, opposition activist and journalist Juan Chinchilla was kidnapped in the Aguán Valley, tortured and interrogated. He escaped after two days and reported in an interview that his captors “almost all wore uniforms of the military, police and private guards of Miguel Facussé.”

Human rights groups worldwide have denounced Facussé’s attacks on Honduran campesinos. On April 8, the German development bank DEG (Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungselleschaft mbH), cancelled a $20 million loan to Dinant after investigating the situation. A week later EDF, a major French energy corporation, announced it was canceling plans to buy carbon credits from Dinant.

Facussé has lashed back aggressively with full-page advertisements in his defense. He also recently sued both Honduras’ Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos and Andres Pavon, President of the Comité para la Defensa del Los Derechos Humanos (CODEH), a well-known human rights group, for defamation.

In tandem with the killings and disappearances of individual activists, in the past year and a half, the Honduran police and military have launched successive waves of repression against entire campesino communities, both newly occupied sites and stable ones with long-term legal status. On December 15, 2010, between 500 and 1,000 police and military surrounded the small campesino town of Guadalupe Carney with snipers and helicopters, and staged a house-by-house search for alleged arms—which they never found. Troops have remained encamped in the middle of the town ever since. In April 2010, 2,000 Honduran police and military occupied the entire lower Aguán valley, controlling access and intimidating its residents.

The situation has worsened since May, and continues to escalate. Five security guards, a policeman, and five others, in addition to over sixteen campesinos, have died. The region is once again occupied by 1,000 troops in a military operation known as Xatruch II—which is aimed at combating armed guerrillas, of whose existence there is no evidence. Nor has any evidence been produced linking campesinos to the other deaths.

Overall, the occupation and repression of the lower Aguán have assumed terrifying proportions. “With the militarization of Xatruch II they are trying to convert our zone into Iraq,” COFADEH and the MUCA charge. “Our settlements are being submitted to a permanent state of siege.”

On June 24, with one hour’s notice, police burned down almost the entire ten-year-old community of Rigores of over 100 houses and bulldozed down its three churches and seven-room schoolhouse. The residents began to rebuild their homes with tarps and sticks, but on September 16–18, in response to the death of a policeman nearby, police rampaged through the town, randomly grabbing and detaining people, including children. One of them was a 16-year-old boy who has testified that police put a bag over his head, sprayed him with gasoline and threatened to kill him. On September 20 police and military successfully ejected all those who remained in the community .

Multiple eyewitnesses and human rights groups report Facussé’s private guards, police, and military all working together in these violent evictions and associated deaths— at El Tumbador on November 15, 2010; in Guadalupe Carney on December 15, 2010; in Rigores on June 24, 2011; and at La Aurora on October 11, where the women hid in the trees—as well as during Chinchilla’s kidnapping. This past August 15, COFADEH reports, Facussé’s guards along with police and members of the military brutally attacked campesinos on the African palm plantation known as Finca Panamá.

According to Rights Action, the Washington, DC, and Toronto–based human rights group, “Military, police and private security forces are reported to exchange uniforms depending on the context, to mobilize jointly both in police patrol cars and automobiles that belong to private security companies employed by the African palm planters.” COFADEH concludes: “The relationship between the military and the private security guards demonstrates clearly that the security guards are acting as paramilitary forces.”

In the past two years since the coup US funding for the Honduran military and police has escalated dramatically. The US has allocated $45 million in new funds for military construction, including expansion and improvement of the jointly operated Soto Cano Air Force Base at Palmerola (supplied now with US drones) and has opened three new military bases. Police and military funding, almost $10 million for 2011, rose dramatically in June with $40 million more under the new $200 million Central American Regional Security Initiative, supposedly to combat drug trafficking in Central America—which is, indeed, rampant, dangerous and growing in Honduras under Lobo’s post-coup government, especially in the Aguán.

Honduran military operations in the lower Aguán valley, including joint operations with Facussé’s guards, benefit from these funds, as well as special training. This summer seventy members of Honduras’ Fifteenth Batallion received a special thirty-three-day training course from the US Rangers. According to the Honduras Solidarity Network, members of the Xatruch Special Forces group in the Aguán Valley, in a September meeting, “confirmed that they had received training from the United States military in special operations, which include sniper and anti-terrorism training.” Eyewitnesses informed Rights Action they saw US Rangers also training Facussé’s security guards.

Most recently, on October 6 members of Operation Xatruch II captured, detained without charges, and tortured Walter Nelin Sabillón Yanos, a MUCA member, FIAN reports. Sabillón testified to FIAN that while he was in detention at the Tocoa police station, authorities beat him, repeatedly placed a hood on his head, and three times applied electric shock to his hands, abdomen and mouth while interrogating him about the campesino movement.

On September 17 I called the Tocoa police station to inquire about the condition of more than thirty campesinos that had been rounded up and were being detained. “Tell her they’ve killed all the campesinos,” the official laughed, and then hung up. A colleague who called immediately afterward was told the detainees were being treated “like dogs.” “Are they being tortured?” she asked. “I hope so,” the official replied.

Now cables released by Wikileaks on September 30 suddenly shed light on the US military and State Department’s role in the Aguán Valley conflict and in Honduras more broadly. A March 19, 2004, cable from the US embassy in Tegucigalpa, entitled “Drug Plane Burned on Prominent Honduran’s Property,” reports that “a known drug trafficking flight with a 1,000 kilo cocaine shipment from Colombia…successfully landed March 14 on the private property of Miguel Facusse.” According to the cable’s author, Ambassador Larry Palmer, sources informed police that “its cargo was off-loaded onto a convoy of vehicles that was guarded by about 30 heavily armed men.” The plane was seen burned and its wreckage then buried by a “bulldozer/front-end loader.” Palmer writes that “Facusse’s property is heavily guarded and the prospect that individuals were able to access the property and, without authorization, use the airstrip is questionable.” One source “claimed that Facusse was present on the property at the time of the incident.”

Ambassador Palmer also reported that “this incident marks the third time in the last fifteen months that drug traffickers have been linked to this property owned by Mr. Facusse.” In a subsequent cable on March 31, 2004, Palmer noted the confiscation by Honduran authorities of “approximately 700 kilos of cocaine” and conveyed the belief that the drugs may have come from the burned plane on Facussé’s property.

On February 22, 2009—four months before the coup—El Heraldo, a right-wing Tegucigalpa newspaper, reported that, according an official of the Honduran government’s anti-narcotics office, a Cessna aircraft with 1,400 kilos of cocaine had been found in Farallones, east of the Aguán Valley in the department of Colon, “on a landing strip that according to our information belongs to Miguel Facussé.” It seems safe to presume that the US embassy reads El Heraldo daily and carefully.

Other cables released by Wikileaks establish that embassy officials met with Miguel Facussé in June 2006 and on September 7, 2009, ten weeks into the coup, when the embassy had lunch with Facussé and Rafael Callejas, another of the coup government’s powerful backers.

A new US ambassador, Lisa Kubiske, arrived in Honduras this August. She is an expert on biofuels—the center of Miguel Facussé’s African palm empire.

How does this all add up, then? First, the US embassy met at least twice with a known, prominent drug trafficker. Second, it was aware that he was a backer of the coup and met with him as it was playing out, as if he were merely a “prominent businessman.”

Third, most importantly, the United States is funding and training Honduran military and police that are conducting joint operations with the security guards of a known drug trafficker, to violently repress a campesino movement on behalf of Facusse’s dubious claims to vast swathes of the Aguán Valley, in order to support his African palm biofuels empire.

Current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was in Washington, DC, the first week in October, trumpeting his commitment to defending human rights and fighting drug wars—with President Obama’s full blessing. In reality, both are providing cover and support for a war against impoverished campesinos, to promote the economic interests of Honduras’ richest and most powerful man.

http://www.thenation.com/article/164120/wikileaks-honduras-us-linked-brutal-businessman

Honduras: behind the crisis

Ismael Moreno

Honduras is in tumult following the forced removal of its president, Manuel Zelaya, on 28 June 2009. The coup has provoked a wave of protest and near-unanimous condemnation by the country’s neighbours, other regional powers, the United States and the United Nations. The deposed president is determined to affirm his right to office – as he did in a speech to the United Nations general assembly on 30 June – and return to Honduras to secure it. Those responsible for the coup seem equally committed to their chosen course of action.Ismael Morena, SJ, is the correspondent for Revista Envío in Honduras, where an earlier version of this article was published

What is going on in Honduras, and what lies behind this political and constitutional eruption?

Manuel Zelaya’s dream

Manuel Zelaya was elected president of Honduras in December 2005, and was inaugurated in January 2006. His four-year term of office – before the “constitutional coup”, and his replacement (until 27 January 2010, the day Zelaya’s term ends) by the ultra-conservative speaker of the national congress, Roberto Micheletti – was scheduled to be voted for in presidential elections on 29 November 2009.

But Zelaya has wanted to prolong his rule; in a pattern familiar from recent national experiences elsewhere in the Americas, he has been seeking constitutional means that would allow him to remain in office. The most controversial of these – and the source of much of the current troubles – is the so-called cuarte urna (“fourth ballot-box”): that is, a proposal to hold a national referendum on the drafting of a new constitution which would (Zelaya hopes) raise presidential term-limits and thus enable him to continue to rule Hondurans. Zelaya had called a public consultation on the referendum for 28 June, which was then declared illegal by the congress and supreme court; hours before the polls opened, he was arrested and ejected from the country.

There are several ways to interpret what Zelaya was trying to do with the referendum effort. The most plausible may be to see it in the context of the political project of Zelaya and his team – and the problems they have faced in relation to both internal Honduran power-structures and regional diplomacy.

These elements are themselves related. The “patricians” around Zelaya have had great difficulties with the framework they have constructed in order to join the Latin American trade bloc known as the Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (Alba), led by Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez). Moreover, the consolidation of the government’s international relations with the region’s leftist regimes – Cuba and Nicaragua as well as Venezuela itself – has caused great unrest among some of the country’s power-sectors.

Zelaya and his team have long sough to concentrate power in the presidency as the key site of their political project, but in the process they ignored and alienated their Liberal Party political base. The “patricians” paid dearly for this misjudgment in April 2009, when the traditional Liberal interests won control of the party and eliminated anyone with influence in the presidency.

This trend was symbolised by Patricia Rodas, the party president, who dedicated herself to running state policy from the foreign-affairs ministry. The reward was close links with Hugo Chávez, but in the process she found her political base corroded. Rodas was arrested in the coup before being allowed to leave the country.

The re-election issue

The symbolic importance of the cuarte urna can be seen in this context. During general elections in Honduras, each voter gets three ballots: the first for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the second for parliamentary representatives, and the third for the municipal mayor. Hence, three ballot-boxes.

The Honduran constitution – the work of a constituent assembly that convened in 1980 – specifies that parliamentary representatives and mayors can run for re-election, but not presidents. In fact, even the argument in favour of presidential re-election has in the past been viewed as treason. The articles in the constitution the provide for a single term have been considered “carved in stone” and not to be reformed for any reason. Indeed, legal specialists argue that these articles were formulated precisely because of fear that the military would infringe on Honduras’s then tender democracy by using rigged elections as a way of holding on to state power.

Three decades later, the importance of the military in the country’s political life has – notwithstanding the coup of 28 June 2009 – been sharply reduced. Many military leaders have been forced to take refuge in the subterranean corridors of organised crime or in the profitable private-security business. In part as a result, the arguments used to defend the articles against re-election have gradually dissipated; the issue was even raised, albeit discreetly, by the administrations of Rafael Leonardo Callejas (1990-94) and Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé (1998-2002). Their circles of followers, who wanted to smash the stone tablets impeding their favourite’s re-election, pushed the issue much more zealously.

The constitution has since 1980 been tweaked in other areas around thirty times, to the point where politicians of all camps are convinced that the document in no longer adequate. This is where the formal change proposed by Manuel Zelaya comes in: that in the November 2009 election-round, the voters will be presented with four ballot-boxes – the fourth one being used for a referendum on the question: “Do you agree with convening a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution?” Most members of the political class has been in agreement with the idea – but most too are unhappy with the man promoting it; in great part because lurking behind the fourth ballot-box they see… Hugo Chávez’s shadow.

Zelaya’s government had proposed to launch a “popular consultation” in an effort persuade the national congress to approve the fourth ballot-box in the November elections. The coup against the president took place at the moment this was due to get underway. But the barons controlling the two traditionally dominant (and now discredited) forces – the National Party and the Liberal Party – began their own campaigns in May 2009. They saw the issue as a possible way of revitalising their parties, and in addition of robbing Zelaya of his “ownership” of the fourth ballot-box idea. Now, Zelaya has been robbed of more than this, and Honduran politics is in flux.

The independent route

The current crisis has altered Honduran political calculations, though until it is resolved – and depending on the way that happens – the direction of the constitutional argument will remain in question.

In the midst of the convulsion, one of the hopeful signs has been the continuation of a debate that began in 2006 about the possibility of independent candidacies in the presidential election. This debate, centred in Honduras’s traditional grassroots movements, came to nothing because of opposition from the organised left, whose leaders would consider electoral participation only from the narrow perspective of the existing leftwing parties.

That debate, like so many others, was derailed by the pressing needs of the moment. The tiny Partido Unificación Democrática was torn within by irreconcilable conflict over the proposal. As a result of the impasse, the leaders of the  grassroots social movement decided in late April 2009 to run an independent candidate in the November 2009 election: trade-union leader and human-rights activist Carlos Humberto Reyes.

The path won’t be easy, coup or no coup. The existing “electoral and political organisations law”, created by Liberal and National lawyers to protect their historic bipartite system, has long been used limit electoral competition and exclude any upstart from entering the country’s democratic space (the law, for example, requires that an independent candidate must supply 45,000 accredited supporting signatures to the supreme electoral tribunal as part of its registration effort). The effort of the veteran human-rights defender (and current national human-rights commissioner) Ramón Custodio to run for the presidency in 2001 foundered in the face of the law‘s institutional constraints.

The fourth and the fifteenth

The pre-coup political atmosphere revealed the fluidity surrounding the project of launching an independent candidate and the fourth ballot-box proposal. The establishment media owned by the country’s elite were quick to connect them, and to try to see evidence of Hugo Chávez’s influence. Indeed, the leaders of the grassroots movement and Zelaya do agree on several issues: Honduras’s attempt to join Alba; the Petrocaribe alliance with Venezuela to purchase oil on preferential terms; fervent support for Chávez himself; and fiery leftist slogans devoid of substance or critical analysis.

The most rightwing currents in Honduras have also tried to jump on the constitutional bandwagon; for example, none other than Roberto Micheletti, proposed in the second half of April 2009 that President Zelaya grant the working class a so-called “fifteenth salary” on May Day in exchange for full support for the fourth ballot-box.

This sounds progressive and worker-friendly – especially at a time of straitened living-standards, where (for example) Hondurans’ purchasing-power has fallen by 30% even compared to 2008 – but is more a trap set by the most conservative business sectors. The business leaders may be worried by a drastic reduction in people’s spending, but they are more interested in gaining a political advantage.

But the interests of political calculation also dominate the other side of the spectrum. Zelaya has exploited the grassroots movement’s need to be heard and the desire for prominence of  some of its vocal leaders – who for their part seem to have forgotten that the Zelaya who now embraces Chávez and mouths revolutionary slogans once made an alliance with Roberto Micheletti. These leaders also wanted to use Zelaya’s government as a lever to present themselves as the real representatives of the continent’s left in Honduras. In other words, this a temporary alliance of mutual manipulation.

The way forward

Carlos Humberto Reyes’s candidacy may yet prove an instrument towards a real break with the bi-party system. At the same time, even before the coup it was evident that his campaign’s links with the executive branch could compromise the very independence it is supposed to embody.  The implication is that the grassroots movement should maintain its critical capacity and establish a clear distance from the executive branch and the fourth ballot-box idea – whose objective was always to keep Zelaya in government at whatever cost.

The smoke from the “constitutional coup” will take time to clear. But even before it occurred, it was evident that Honduras needs a change of direction and new legislation that responds to the challenges of the complex 21st century.

A constitution changed piecemeal every time it suits the official political class can’t go on being the legal instrument that regulates the country’s life. The real debate isn’t the relevance of constitutional reform, but rather the intentions behind that fourth ballot-box. If the idea is to clean up the image of the political class, it would become just another instrument like the reform to elect the supreme court or the supreme electoral tribunal. Honduras’s laws are reformed mainly to satisfy  the power ambitions of the politicians themselves, some of whom dress in nationalist blue, others in Liberal red – all the while making a show of wearing the blue-and-white of the national flag.

What use, then, would be a fourth ballot-box that produces a constituent assembly of the same old politicians to draft a new constitution that responds to and updates the interests of the same old political class? The country needs a fourth ballot-box to bring together the interests of all the different social and grassroots elements to campaign for a country better than the one controlled for decades by the caste of traditional politicians, a sovereign country that respects the dignity of its poorest people. Whatever the outcome of Honduras’s current political trauma, this aspiration must remain on the agenda.

Honduras, frontera clave para la droga hacia Estados Unidos

El 79% de la cocaína que vuela desde América del Sur aterriza en el país centroamericano. Desde allí sube hacia Guatemala por la frontera de Copán, donde deja un reguero de sangre y dinero, apadrinado por el ‘Chapo’ Guzmán

 

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/01/06/actualidad/1389044788_511765.html

Un militar vigila la pista de aterrizaje de Puerto Lempira una de las zonas por las que transita la mayor cantidad de cocaína a través de Honduras / Edu Ponces / RUIDO Photo

En un país donde algunos políticos regalan ataúdes para ganar votos porque dos terceras partes de la población viven con menos de dos dólares al día, un entierro con mariachis y desfile de políticos es singular. Si además el difunto fue encontrado en una barranca, semidesnudo y con varios balazos cerca de una de las fronteras con más trasiego de droga, las sospechas saltan. El pasado mes de noviembre fue asesinado un prominente empresario del departamento de Copán, colindante con Guatemala. Su muerte seguramente no será investigada, como el 82% de las denuncias en Honduras, que ni siquiera llegan a juicio. Pero el vox populi ya lo ha condenado. “Narco-empresario”, le acusan en los foros de los periódicos, “estaba bien metido”, susurran en las calles. Aquí todos saben pero nadie se atreve a hablar públicamente.

El Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos estima que el 79% de la cocaína que sale por aire desde Sudamérica aterriza en cerca de las 200 pistas clandestinas que habría en Honduras, un estado endeble y limítrofe con cuatro países. De ahí se mueve por mar o por tierra hasta el norte. Copán es la última parada en suelo hondureño antes de cruzar a Guatemala. En sus 300 kilómetros de zona limítrofe se computan entre 20 y 25 puntos ciegos ideales para el paso de droga. “Tenemos esa colita de la frontera donde el narcotráfico ha crecido con la complicidad del Estado, que está totalmente permeado” explica un periodista local en un café enfrente de la catedral de Santa Rosa de Copán.

En esta región humilde de casas de adobe, cafetales y vacas flacas, el dinero del narcotráfico ha caído como agua bendita y ha salpicado todos los sectores. “Copán es el lugar para que los policías se hagan ricos”, confiesa un funcionario testigo de la colusión entre narcos y autoridades. Una red de corrupción e impunidad que se teje por todo el país pero que se acentúa en la frontera, donde policías, fiscales y jueces cierran los ojos a cambio de cuantiosos sobornos, una parte de los cuales llega hasta sus cabezas en la capital. “Hay una colusión entre la policía, el ministerio público y el crimen organizado que se ha ido acentuando cada vez más”, acusa María Luisa Borjas, ex directora de asuntos internos de la Policía. Ella misma estuvo destinada a Copán a finales de los 90 y recuerda como, cuando exigía más efectivos, le reclamaban que “pedía mucho y no mandaba nada”. Desde entonces el crimen encontró abono fértil para desarrollarse.

“El narco en Honduras empezó con pequeños grupos que servían de mulas (como se conoce a los que pasan pequeñas cantidades de drogas por las fronteras­) a gente mexicana, pero luego las mulas aprendieron el negocio y se convirtieron en los grandes jefes en puntos estratégicos del país”, explica una reportera especializada en temas de seguridad. Copán es uno de esos puntos. Por allí dicen que se pasea el capo más buscado del mundo, el Chapo Guzmán, jefe del mexicano Cartel de Sinaloa, que tiene a dos organizaciones copanecas a su servicio. En noviembre, el viceministro de defensa, Carlos Roberto Funes, reconoció públicamente que el Chapo va y viene. En Copán ya es un mito. “El Chapo ha utilizado el lugar como un refugio desde hace mucho. No permanece mucho en la zona por seguridad. En el Espíritu y el Paraíso son los dos puntos porque ahí hay puntos ciegos donde tú pasas y nadie dice nada”, narra esa misma reportera que ha tenido que dejar la zona por amenazas. Los criminales imponen la ley del silencio a golpes, ya sean físicos o de talonario. El trasiego de la droga también deja a su paso una estela de muerte.

Honduras es el país más violento del mundo. Con 8,2 millones de habitantes registra más de siete mil asesinatos al años, una tasa de 85,5 homicidios por cada cien mil personas. Copán llega a los 104. En España la media no llega a cuatro muertes violentas por cada cien mil habitantes. “Aunque no se investiguen, aquí la mayoría de las muertes están relacionadas con el narcotráfico, por pleitos entre ellos o por hablar más de la cuenta”, reconoce el funcionario copaneco. Por eso nadie quiere ser citado.

“El narco es un poder real en la zona, es un poder en el Congreso, en las elecciones de noviembre se eligieron al menos tres diputados de Copán vinculados al crimen pero todos se hacen de la vista gorda, porque hay derrama económica, desarrollo y más allá por miedo”, asevera una política local en la oposición. Donde antes habían calles polvorientas ahora florecen hoteles y centros comerciales. Tienen incluso el ayuntamiento más ostentoso de Honduras, una réplica barroca del Capitolio con helipuerto en la azotea. Está en el municipio fronterizo de El Paraíso, un pueblo de veinte mil habitantes que se convertía en lodazal en cada temporada de lluvias hasta 2005, cuando ganó la alcaldía Alexander Ardón, un antiguo arriero de ganado que ahora es señalado como el líder de uno de los socios de Guzmán en la región. En dos mandatos llevó la energía eléctrica hasta el último rincón, empedró las calles, erigió un mercado de un millón de dólares y el lujoso palacio municipal. Ardón, quién no comparece ante la prensa ni asiste a eventos públicos se atrevió a presentarse en el cierre de campaña de las elecciones del 24 de noviembre y desde el templete espetó “las guerras se ganan con estrategia, con ideas, no matando gente”. A finales de enero empezará su tercera alcaldía.

Por tercer año consecutivo, San Pedro Sula es la ciudad más violenta del mundo

Post 15 January 2014
Por José A. Ortega
Visitas: 7311

Con una tasa de 187 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, la urbe hondureña de San Pedro Sula ocupó por tercer año consecutivo el liderato del ranking de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo. El segundo lugar correspondió a Caracas, Venezuela y el tercero a Acapulco, México, con tasas de 134 y 113 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, respectivamente.

La situación de San Pedro no mejora, empeora. Si en 2010 figuró en el tercer lugar mundial con una tasa de 125 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, en 2011 pasó al primer lugar mundial con una tasa de 159 y en 2012 mantuvo la primera posición con una tasa que calculamos similar a la del año anterior, pero que después se supo era superior (174).

Ciudad Juárez siguió reduciendo su incidencia de homicidios y si había tenido el primer lugar mundial en los años 2008, 2009 y 2010, en 2011 tuvo el segundo lugar, en 2012 el 19 y ahora ocupa la posición 37.

Del ranking salieron las siguientes ciudades que figuraron en 2012: Brasilia y Curitiba de Brasil, Barranquilla de Colombia, Oakland de Estados Unidos y Monterrey de México. Todas estas ciudades tuvieron tasas inferiores a la del lugar 50 (Valencia, Venezuela con 30.04 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes).

Al ranking de 2013 ingresaron las ciudades brasileñas de Campina Grande, Natal y Aracaju y la colombiana de Palmira. Asimismo reingresó al ranking la ciudad mexicana de Tijuana, que había figurado entre 2008 y 2010 y no figuró en los rankings de 2011 y 2012.

De las 50 ciudades del ranking, 16 se ubican en Brasil, 9 en México, 6 en Colombia, 5 en Venezuela, 4 en Estados Unidos, 3 en Sudáfrica, 2 en Honduras y hay una de El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica y Puerto Rico.

Descarga ESTUDIO COMPLETO

La abrumadora mayoría de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo se ubican en el continente americano (46 ciudades) y en particular en América Latina (41 urbes).

Esto confirma lo que revelan diversos estudios globales por país: que la violencia homicida en América Latina presenta una incidencia muy por encima de la media mundial.

La situación de América Latina no es igual en todos los países, claro está. El nivel de violencia es considerablemente menor a la media latinoamericana en países como Chile, Nicaragua, Costa Rica o Argentina.

Los países latinoamericanos con el mayor problema de violencia son Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, México y Brasil.

Asimismo el proceso más exitoso y encomiable en la reducción de la violencia es el de Colombia. Resulta especialmente meritorio que desde hace 11 años sigan bajando la incidencia de homicidios y otros delitos violentos debido a la cada vez mayor eficacia de la policía y no como resultado de la negociación con criminales (como es el caso de El Salvador).

Ahora bien, el mayor obstáculo que un esfuerzo de investigación como el que representa el ranking enfrenta, es la falta de transparencia de los gobiernos de varios de los países. Peor aún es la práctica de falsificar cifras que realizan gobernantes de algunas naciones, específicamente de México y Venezuela.

Respecto al gobierno de Venezuela por sus actos ha demostrado que no le interesa la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas sino el ocultamiento o la propaganda, muchas veces basada en mentiras. Esta política del gobierno venezolano de hacer propaganda en lugar de resolver el problema de la violencia, confirma el temor de que Venezuela se conduce hacia el abismo.

En México en teoría hay transparencia informativa, para lo cual se hace público mes por mes la estadística de incidencia criminal, desglosada en decenas de tipos penales y con grado de desagregación estatal y, desde 2011, municipal.

El problema es que los gobiernos de no pocas entidades federativas falsifican las cifras, para simular una incidencia criminal inferior a la real.

Esta falsificación se constata cuando se cotejan las cifras de homicidios (y otros delitos) que los gobiernos locales reportan con las que genera el Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (INEGI), las cuales son más abultadas y resultan de un ejercicio más profesional y más honesto.

Al respecto quepa citar a manera de ejemplo los casos más escandalosos de discrepancia, que evidencian la manipulación de cifras y que tienen relación directa con el ranking, los cuales corresponden a los estados de Tamaulipas, Coahuila y Chihuahua. Los datos son 2012, pues el INEGI hasta mediados de 2014 dará a conocer sus cifras preliminares de 2013.

El caso más escandaloso de falsificación de cifras es el de Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. El gobierno del estado reportó 288 homicidios en 2012. Con esa cifra y una tasa de 72.85 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, se ubicó en el octavo lugar del ranking de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo.

Pero el INEGI registró 544 homicidios, es decir, ¡un 88.89% más! Eso significa que la tasa de Nuevo Laredo en realidad fue 137.61 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, con lo cual el lugar que le habría correspondido en el ranking sería el tercero mundial.

El segundo caso de falsificación de cifras se refiere al municipio de Torreón Coahuila. El gobierno local reportó al SE-SNSP un total de 462 homicidios en 2012, cuando que el INEGI registró 792, es decir, un 71.43% más.

El tercer caso notorio de falsificación de cifras corresponde al municipio de Chihuahua, capital del estado del mismo nombre. El gobierno local reportó al SE-SNSP un total de 363 homicidios en 2012, mientras que el INEGI registró 587, es decir, un 61.71% más. Es decir, en el lugar de la posición 32 en el ranking que tuvo Chihuahua con una tasa de 43.49 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, en realidad tenía que haber sido la posición 12, con una tasa de 69.56.

Cuando el gobierno del Presidente Enrique Peña festina la supuesta baja de la incidencia de homicidios en México ¿cómo creer en las cifras oficiales cuando están basadas en estos fraudes?

Por lo demás no es de esperar una disminución significativa de la violencia en México cuando la nueva administración, como la anterior, carece de una política eficaz y ni siquiera es capaz de poner en práctica sus cuestionables programas como el de crear una nueva policía (¡otra más!), la gendarmería nacional.

Lic. José Antonio Ortega Sánchez
Presidente del Consejo Ciudadano para la
Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal, A. C.

Posición Ciudad País Homicidios Habitantes Tasa
1 San Pedro Sula Honduras 1,411 753,990 187.14
2 Caracas Venezuela 4,364 3,247,971 134.36
3 Acapulco México 940 833,294 112.80
4 Cali Colombia 1,930 2,319,684 83.20
5 Maceió Brasil 795 996,733 79.76
6 Distrito Central Honduras 946 1,191,111 79.42
7 Fortaleza Brasil 2,754 3,782,634 72.81
8 Guatemala Guatemala 2,123 3,103,685 68.40
9 João Pessoa Brasil 515 769,607 66.92
10 Barquisimeto Venezuela 804 1,242,351 64.72

Honduras, frontera clave para la droga hacia Estados Unidos

El 79% de la cocaína que vuela desde América del Sur aterriza en el país centroamericano. Desde allí sube hacia Guatemala por la frontera de Copán, donde deja un reguero de sangre y dinero, apadrinado por el ‘Chapo’ Guzmán

 

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/01/06/actualidad/1389044788_511765.html

Un militar vigila la pista de aterrizaje de Puerto Lempira una de las zonas por las que transita la mayor cantidad de cocaína a través de Honduras / Edu Ponces / RUIDO Photo

En un país donde algunos políticos regalan ataúdes para ganar votos porque dos terceras partes de la población viven con menos de dos dólares al día, un entierro con mariachis y desfile de políticos es singular. Si además el difunto fue encontrado en una barranca, semidesnudo y con varios balazos cerca de una de las fronteras con más trasiego de droga, las sospechas saltan. El pasado mes de noviembre fue asesinado un prominente empresario del departamento de Copán, colindante con Guatemala. Su muerte seguramente no será investigada, como el 82% de las denuncias en Honduras, que ni siquiera llegan a juicio. Pero el vox populi ya lo ha condenado. “Narco-empresario”, le acusan en los foros de los periódicos, “estaba bien metido”, susurran en las calles. Aquí todos saben pero nadie se atreve a hablar públicamente.

El Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos estima que el 79% de la cocaína que sale por aire desde Sudamérica aterriza en cerca de las 200 pistas clandestinas que habría en Honduras, un estado endeble y limítrofe con cuatro países. De ahí se mueve por mar o por tierra hasta el norte. Copán es la última parada en suelo hondureño antes de cruzar a Guatemala. En sus 300 kilómetros de zona limítrofe se computan entre 20 y 25 puntos ciegos ideales para el paso de droga. “Tenemos esa colita de la frontera donde el narcotráfico ha crecido con la complicidad del Estado, que está totalmente permeado” explica un periodista local en un café enfrente de la catedral de Santa Rosa de Copán.

En esta región humilde de casas de adobe, cafetales y vacas flacas, el dinero del narcotráfico ha caído como agua bendita y ha salpicado todos los sectores. “Copán es el lugar para que los policías se hagan ricos”, confiesa un funcionario testigo de la colusión entre narcos y autoridades. Una red de corrupción e impunidad que se teje por todo el país pero que se acentúa en la frontera, donde policías, fiscales y jueces cierran los ojos a cambio de cuantiosos sobornos, una parte de los cuales llega hasta sus cabezas en la capital. “Hay una colusión entre la policía, el ministerio público y el crimen organizado que se ha ido acentuando cada vez más”, acusa María Luisa Borjas, ex directora de asuntos internos de la Policía. Ella misma estuvo destinada a Copán a finales de los 90 y recuerda como, cuando exigía más efectivos, le reclamaban que “pedía mucho y no mandaba nada”. Desde entonces el crimen encontró abono fértil para desarrollarse.

“El narco en Honduras empezó con pequeños grupos que servían de mulas (como se conoce a los que pasan pequeñas cantidades de drogas por las fronteras­) a gente mexicana, pero luego las mulas aprendieron el negocio y se convirtieron en los grandes jefes en puntos estratégicos del país”, explica una reportera especializada en temas de seguridad. Copán es uno de esos puntos. Por allí dicen que se pasea el capo más buscado del mundo, el Chapo Guzmán, jefe del mexicano Cartel de Sinaloa, que tiene a dos organizaciones copanecas a su servicio. En noviembre, el viceministro de defensa, Carlos Roberto Funes, reconoció públicamente que el Chapo va y viene. En Copán ya es un mito. “El Chapo ha utilizado el lugar como un refugio desde hace mucho. No permanece mucho en la zona por seguridad. En el Espíritu y el Paraíso son los dos puntos porque ahí hay puntos ciegos donde tú pasas y nadie dice nada”, narra esa misma reportera que ha tenido que dejar la zona por amenazas. Los criminales imponen la ley del silencio a golpes, ya sean físicos o de talonario. El trasiego de la droga también deja a su paso una estela de muerte.

Honduras es el país más violento del mundo. Con 8,2 millones de habitantes registra más de siete mil asesinatos al años, una tasa de 85,5 homicidios por cada cien mil personas. Copán llega a los 104. En España la media no llega a cuatro muertes violentas por cada cien mil habitantes. “Aunque no se investiguen, aquí la mayoría de las muertes están relacionadas con el narcotráfico, por pleitos entre ellos o por hablar más de la cuenta”, reconoce el funcionario copaneco. Por eso nadie quiere ser citado.

“El narco es un poder real en la zona, es un poder en el Congreso, en las elecciones de noviembre se eligieron al menos tres diputados de Copán vinculados al crimen pero todos se hacen de la vista gorda, porque hay derrama económica, desarrollo y más allá por miedo”, asevera una política local en la oposición. Donde antes habían calles polvorientas ahora florecen hoteles y centros comerciales. Tienen incluso el ayuntamiento más ostentoso de Honduras, una réplica barroca del Capitolio con helipuerto en la azotea. Está en el municipio fronterizo de El Paraíso, un pueblo de veinte mil habitantes que se convertía en lodazal en cada temporada de lluvias hasta 2005, cuando ganó la alcaldía Alexander Ardón, un antiguo arriero de ganado que ahora es señalado como el líder de uno de los socios de Guzmán en la región. En dos mandatos llevó la energía eléctrica hasta el último rincón, empedró las calles, erigió un mercado de un millón de dólares y el lujoso palacio municipal. Ardón, quién no comparece ante la prensa ni asiste a eventos públicos se atrevió a presentarse en el cierre de campaña de las elecciones del 24 de noviembre y desde el templete espetó “las guerras se ganan con estrategia, con ideas, no matando gente”. A finales de enero empezará su tercera alcaldía.