US, Chile, and Colombia Advise Honduras on Fight against Crime

By Dialogo
January 23, 2012

U.S. experts will join advisers from Chile and Colombia who are in Honduras designing strategies for the fight against organized crime, which has made that Central American country one of the world’s most violent, the Honduran government announced on January 19.

On January 18, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo met in Miami with U.S. Government representatives who committed to sending two security experts, stated Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla, who accompanied the president on the trip.

Bonilla said that during the meeting, attended by advisor to President Barack Obama Dan Restrepo, and other U.S. officials, participants agreed that the expert who will work with Lobo will be a former U.S. ambassador in Managua, whom he did not identify, while the other envoy will work with the Ministry of Security.

“We will assess how to coordinate actions among several countries, such as Colombia and Chile, in order to resolve this problem of security,” the minister told local media.

On January 29, he added, members of the Carabineros training academy, Chile’s paramilitary national police force, will also arrive in Honduras, and a former Colombian under-secretary of coexistence and citizen security, Hugo Acero Velásquez, who designed security projects with good results in his country, is already in Tegucigalpa.

“We need to acknowledge that we have a large problem, but that there’s a will to find a solution to it,” Bonilla stated, noting that the problem is exacerbated in Honduras by impunity and police ties to organized crime.

It was discovered late last year that the Honduran police force, made up of around 14,500 officers, is implicated in drug-trafficking activities, kidnappings, assaults, murder for hire, and extortion, among other crimes.

Bonilla specified that the U.S. and Colombian experts will primarily help with investigative work and the fight against impunity, and the Carabineros with “solving the police problem.”

The minister added that the security plan that will be designed with the United States will include coordinated actions with the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras), the countries of the region most affected by gang-related and drug-related violence.

In 2010, the United States formalized a Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) with an initial budget of 165 million dollars, with the aim of confronting the rampant violence affecting these countries.

Honduras, with a population of 8 million, has one of the world’s highest homicide rates, 82 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to a United Nations (UN) report.