Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Honduran troops sent to fight rising urban crime

Economist Intelligence Unit
The president, Porfirio Lobo, has launched "Operacion Libertad" (Operation Liberty), with 1,400 troops deployed in Honduras's two main cities alongside regular officers from the national police.
Launched on February 8th, this is the latest attempt by the Lobo government to improve its dubious record on crime fighting as it faces increasing criticism for its failures to redress the violence dogging the country.
Since taking office, Mr Lobo has resorted to several previously tried police-led security initiatives such as Mano Dura, and Super Mano Dura, at the same time as trying to give the Army a larger role in crime-fighting. "Operation Lightening", launched in November 2011, relied for the first time on considerable numbers of soldiers as well as police officers, patrolling the cities and rural areas. Most reliable statistics suggest, however, that few tangible results have been achieved. According to the Observatorio de la Violencia at the national autonomous university, which monitors violent crime rates, the number of murders rose from 7,014 in 2011 to 7,173 last year. The UN Office on Crime and Drugs (UNODC) has estimated that Honduras's homicide rate is as high as 92 per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in the world.
The latest government security plan came just days after several newspapers published images from a video of two young men murdered in the centre of the capital, Tegucigalpa, drawing heavy censure from ministers. Mr Lobo has repeatedly accused some media owners of conspiring to damage the country's image abroad. With elections later this year, the successes and failures of the government on crime, as well as on the economy, become readily seized upon as campaigning themes. Although he cannot stand for re-election, Mr Lobo is keen to shore up his own legacy and position his party in a tightly-fought contest for the presidency.
Impact on the forecast
The new police and army deployments to tackle crime do not change our underlying assumptions about the deterioration in public security and its threat to the overall business climate.

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