Join 3,441 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Help me understand Honduras.
January 25, 2006 1:04 AM   Subscribe

Help me understand Honduras.

What is a 'police state'? Why do the police officers here carry shotguns and wear paramilitary sweaters and boots? Why do police officers with shotguns, paramilitary sweaters and boots work shifts at Popeye's Chicken and the shoe store?

Starting from Ohio, I crossed the border in Brownsville, TX and wound through Mexico via Ciudad de Mexico, Oaxaca, Salina Cruz and Tapachula. In Guatemala I noticed the heavily armed heavy police presence and in Honduras I've seen the same.

Today, leaving my sister's apartment in San Pedro Sula, I saw a dead man slumped over into the passenger seat of his Toyota, having been shot moments before. Blood on his shirt, crashed into a tree. Camera crews around, police tape cordoned about the scene.

Mexico was poor but pleasant. Guatemala and Honduras have been desparate and paranoid before becoming violent.

This isn't a question for anyone with Google-fu enough to find a wikipedia article. I've been there. Have you lived here? Have you gone to college and studied Latin American economics or history?

Some footnotes. A conversational synopsis. Personal anecdotes. Weatherworn opinions.

Maybe it's the humidity.
posted by airguitar to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
 
I suggest you go here and ask Lucius Shepard about it. He's a writer who lived in Honduras for a few years and knows a lot about the country's problems, I'm sure he'll be happy to discuss them with you.
posted by Goblindegook at 1:54 AM on January 25, 2006


You might look here, or here.

Or anywhere else on the same site. Honduras has a very bloody and sad recent history as (at least partially) a direct result of U.S. foreign policy. Looking at Honduras, I can't wait to see how iraq will turn out.

(disclaimer: I run the server and wrote the code for that site, but the content belongs to others...)
posted by jaded at 5:20 AM on January 25, 2006


I've always liked the Oliver Stone movie Salvador, which your description of Honduras reminds me of.
posted by camworld at 6:53 AM on January 25, 2006


The first place outside of the US that I travelled to was El Salvador and I could not get over the amount of police. First was greeted outside the airport with several security guards with big shotguns, then on the streets, in motorcades (on motorcycles), or guards stationed in front of most buildings. Every so often there are checkpoints or where police pull random people over and they are surrounded by several police. They wear militia uniforms, not the officer friendly uniform. But I assure you this is NORMAL for much of the world!
posted by _zed_ at 7:25 AM on January 25, 2006


Honduras is very unstable and run by a junta, much like El Salvador and Guatemala. The country has always been desperately poor, but hurricane Mitch really did it in. In order to keep the populace from revolting in their desperation the junta has started boosting the police/military presence. That's my observations anyway.

I was last there some 10 years ago, when the latest generalissimo consolidated his power. His means of clearing poverty was to literally clear poverty by beating and murdering street people (mostly young children) in Tegucigalpa. It was awful and I definitely just wanted to get the hell out of there.

It's sad that Honduras has had it's ups and downs but it seems like this is one of its real low points. Sadder still is that there is a long way down to go still before rock bottom. El Salvador is actually improved from it's deepest trench, despite the recent rumblings, gang warfare and murders.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2006


Desperately poor people + a few wealthy people + ineffective if not completely broken police and judicial systems = lots of violent crime.

In countries where violent crime is common and labor is so inexpensive (read: many many people desperate for any kind of work), it's cheap to pay young men to stand around with guns, which are also plentiful - thus, the unnerving sight of teenagers with shotguns near every bank or upscale business. Ecuador is like that too (I go a lot), and it's relatively peaceful and stable.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2006


In addition to what's been said above, many blame the street gangs for much of the violence and insecurity in Honduras, as in other Central American countries. This link looks a little iffy, but the content seems more or less reasonable. Many members of Central American gangs have been involved in U.S. gangs, served prison time (during which they became even more hardened criminals) and brought their "expertise" to their home countries after they were deported upon release.
posted by donpedro at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2006


« Older What's the best path via roads...   |  The unthinkable has happened. ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.