Graffiti protesting the lack of pay for state workers in Honduras

Facing an internal debt of approximately $3 billion, Honduras' government is struggling to maintain basic security services, with power cut on street surveillance cameras and hints that the "911" emergency services phone line could be next.

As newspaper El Heraldo reported, Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla told a Tegucigalpa-based radio station that the government must pay 102 million lempiras (over $5 million) to a company that runs the surveillance camera system in the capital. The company suspended the service in early January after the government was unable to pay the debt, Bonilla said. There are thought to be some 800 cameras in crime hotspots across Tegucigalpa.

Bonilla added that the radio communication system that allows police to receive emergency calls could be next to go, due to a lack of funds.

Spanish international news agency EFE has called the situation "a fiscal crisis without precedent" in Honduras. Public sector employees -- from teachers to doctors to transport and housing workers -- are awaiting months of back pay. 

As the Associated Press (AP) points out, inaction by Congress bears some responsibility for the crisis, as lawmakers have only passed a partial budget and have not yet discussed any measures that would immediately address the deficit. It's also possible that public funds have been funneled into re-election campaigns ahead of November's elections, the news agency reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

Honduras' massive internal and foreign debt have already led to a dramatic deterioration in state services across the board. The gap in security services will only accelerate the country's decline, potentially driving up crime and violence rates, and could help organized criminal groups to cement their hold on the country.

Of particular concern is how long a bankrupt Honduras will be able to continue paying the salaries of its police and military forces. According to the AP, many soldiers have not been paid since September. Families of slain police officers have complained of not receiving life insurance payments since last year. The lack of payment could drive more members of the security forces to outsource their services to organized crime, or, in a worst case scenario, to openly rebel against the government.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Prev Next

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...