BY GUEST BLOGGER | May 20, 2015
written by: Marisa LaBella, Walsh Jesuit High School ’15
This June, two hundred United States Marines will deploy to Honduras where they will assist authorities in potential disaster prevention during the country’s hurricane season. The troops will remain until November, allowing for six months of training alongside local militaries and investment in community development, such as restoration and reconstruction.
This is one of the many United States-funded approaches to easing the cycle of crime and corruption that Honduras has suffered through for decades. The U.S. has a long history of supporting security forces engaged in violent repression in Honduras, a country just a two and a half hour flight from Houston. The means by which the U.S. shares in this tragedy is through a heavy reliance on military forces. U.S. militarization has taken diverse forms, from weaponry sales and military bases, to military training of police forces and doctrines addressing organized crime in Honduras. Intervention of this region is regarded as a necessity so as to interdict illegal drugs and combat corrupt regimes, but with little evaluation of the impact militarization has on human rights, the situation has seen little improvement.
As a result of the surge of violence generated by gangs and drug cartels in recent years, Honduras is the single largest source of unaccompanied minors migrating to the U.S. Thousands of immigrants, who have been denied the right to safety in their own countries, are willing to make perilous journeys to U.S. borders, only to be greeted by a series of protesters and overcrowded detention centers. As the immigration crisis remains prevalent in the news, the context behind these journeys is left unexposed, especially in the cases of unaccompanied children. With a history of gang violence, human trafficking, inadequate education, corrupt legal and law enforcement systems, and little opportunity, the youth of Honduras are left with little to abandon except a cycle of despair.
As the United States is in a position of power, the government needs to ask that the right of Central Americans—specifically those who live in Honduras, the country with the highest murder rate in the world—to live and have sustainable lives is respected. An increased military presence has proven to only contribute to the violent situation, as most of the training and resources are given to corrupt officials, rather than instilling a sense of security; therefore, instead of providing stability through militarization and financed programs of violence, resources need to be available for those who have been subject to violence. As a nation, the U.S. needs to reassess the aid sent to countries with corrupt policies and military forces to ensure that the U.S. is part of the solution, not the problem.
Learn more about the human rights crisis in Honduras by watching La Voz del Pueblo, a project of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, America Media, and ISN.