Photo: Honduras Global Murder Capital
Honduras experienced 6,723 murders between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15, or an average of 81.5 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, the chancellor of the National Autonomous University said Thursday.
The numbers, which represent an increase of 881 over 2010, were compiled by the university’s Violence Observatory, Julieta Castellanos told Channel 5 television in Tegucigalpa.
The Honduran government claims that murders are down in 2011 compared with last year, crediting “Operation Lightning,” a joint police and military operation launched last month.
Violence has been on the rise in Honduras since 2005, according to Castellanos, who noted that the country’s murder rate then was 37 per 100,000 residents.
The global rate, as calculated by the United Nations, is 8.8 homicides per 100,000.
While acknowledging that December has seen fewer killings, Castellanos said the relative peace is a seasonal phenomenon that occurs every year and has nothing to do with Operation Lightning.
“The country is controlled by criminal bands,” she said, asserting that parts of Honduras are now effectively outside the criminal justice system.
Crime is not an abstraction for Castellanos, whose son was murdered in October along with a fellow university student. The prime suspects are police officers.
The slayings of the two students provoked demands for a thorough housecleaning of the National Police, something Castellanos says has yet to happen.
President Porfirio Lobo’s government has undertaken “some actions that can be seen as a gesture to combat the problem, but the fundamental problem has not been addressed,” she told Efe.
“Citizens are subjected to three types of problems: the crimes and offense of the police; those of the non-police bands; and the lack of investigation,” Castellanos said. “There is no police investigation because there are police commanders who receive pay from criminal bands to not investigate crimes.”