The militarization of Honduras’s security forces is something that has caused concern ever since Hernandez first announced the PMOP (Militarized Police for Public Order). There have been a number of human rights abuses committed by the organization, but few could argue that the nation has seen a “drop” in crime. However, some of Hernandez’s statements, such as his comment that people who comment on the “Rosenthal Case” would be jailed, and the actions of the congressman who wants to make the seizures of highways and public buildings an offense punishable by jail-time, should motivate people to be concerned with over-militarization. Additionally, instances of censorship occurring in Yoro and in Colon just over a month and a half ago are serious, and likely remain entrenched in the minds of Human Rights Defenders.
But is that the only thing occurring in Honduras? No. Not even remotely. More and more programs are appearing nation-wide, meant to teach people how to overcome cycles of violence that cripple societies, such as the GREAT program (Gang Resistance Education and Training), and groups like the ASJ (Association for a More Just Society) are appearing and gaining popularity at a national level. Additionally, more modern crime-detection techniques are being implemented all over the country. Also, forces like the FNA (The National Anti-Extortion Force) have been doing a tremendous amount of work to combat extortionists who often times claim connections to gangs as a method of stealing money from just and legitimate businesses. The FNA even went to social media recently, with an article highlighting the fact that you can now file denouncements via Facebook! Additionally, more and more workshops are appearing to teach people of all ages how to run businesses and granting them resources to help them become more financially independent.
So what does this mean? Can we attribute Honduras’s increasing fight against crime to any one factor? Not really. It’s a fusion of various factors that are turning the nation against crime and against murderous criminal groups. But more and more people are joining the fight against crime.
But what we can actually DO? We can support groups who fight against violence, and we can work to provide resources for the victims of crime. We can do this by working to encourage more workshops like a recent one done by a collection of agencies meant to help survivors of domestic violence become financially independent. We can work to push for more workshops which tap into Honduras’s youth, and encourage them to become leaders in their communities. We can work to support organizations which privately investigate crimes. We can also support agencies like the FNA which help support businesses by punishing the cowards who try to steal money from them, and we can work to support tourism in the nation, by working to highlight the successes of Honduran crime-fighters, and innovative policies by Honduran politicians meant to combat the spread of organized crime groups, while pointing out the beauty of Honduran culture and the amazing sights in Honduras like Copan and Roatan. We can also go out of our way to support Honduran owned businesses, including digitally, by visiting their websites and making sure they get just a bit more in terms of ad revenue.
If we want to help Honduras, we’ve got to support the hard-working men and women who fight to make our country safer, while also pushing for various forms of community policing, which amounts to more than just having the police be in the communities (although that is a part of it). We’ve got to work with the communities themselves to push them to fight against criminals in organized ways. We’ve got to encourage them to become independent if they don’t trust the police, but be willing to work with the police who’ve proven that they are trust-worthy. We can also go out of our way to improve the safety of the schools, because Honduran articles have talked about the relative lack of safety of the schools, especially at night. We must work to combat that. We must push the police to safe-guard the schools themselves and work to demonstrate that institutions of education are incorruptible houses of learning. Regardless of whether or not they take place at night. How do we do that? We work to implement the programs like GREAT at a national level. We also work to get more police officers in and around the schools. And we make sure our teachers get paid. Every few months we end up hearing about another strike from the teachers because they haven’t been paid. We cannot afford that any longer if we want to make the country a better place. Education and crime-fighting must go hand in hand from now. Let’s focus on our successes while also having a real conversation about the issues we face.
*This is an opinion piece, and not necessarily the opinion of anyone other than the author*
*Featured Image is the icon of the ASJ, the Association for a More Just Society*
This is my first opinion piece, so I’d love to hear what you think.
http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/honduras-president-sidesteps-congress-on-military-police Source for the photo in the article