Murder rates in Central American countries are declining

More than 7,000 lives were lost to violence in Honduras in 2011, about the same number as in Syria, which had more than twice as many people and was stumbling into civil war. That year Honduras had the highest homicide rate of any country not at war, at 86 per 100,000 people. The number in Mexico, itself extremely violent, was 20.

There are signs that the bloody tide is receding. Homicides are down from their peak in all three countries [Honduras, Guatamala, El Salvador]. This year the murder rate in Honduras will fall to 40 per 100,000 people. El Salvador’s will have fallen by half from 2015, to about 51 per 100,000. And in Guatemala, which has tended to have a lower murder rate than its neighbours, homicides are down by half since 2009, to 26 per 100,000.

In 2016 Honduras, where fewer people trusted the police than anywhere else in Latin America, purged a third of its force. It has built a new training academy and doubled training time for new cops to 12 months.

In 2016 Honduras, where fewer people trusted the police than anywhere else in Latin America, purged a third of its force. It has built a new training academy and doubled training time for new cops to 12 months.

Honduras has also made progress in tackling trans-national drug trafficking. More soldiers have been posted to the Mosquito Coast. A new task force has improved co-ordination between agencies. And a recent willingness to extradite criminals to the United States has put the fear of Uncle Sam into captured goons, who become talkative to avoid American jails. Many big fish have been locked up. The president’s brother, Antonio, was arrested last month in Miami on trafficking charges.

From the Economist Dec 9 2018 issue, ” Calm like a bomb.”

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