A Honduran police sub-commissioner was gunned down in Tegucigalpa, in another case that highlights the country’s desperate security situation.
German Fernando Reyes Flores was travelling through the capital on the evening of January 15, when he was intercepted by a group of armed men, who pulled him from his car, and shot and killed him on the spot, police told the Honduran media. The killers took Reyes' car, but left it in another part of the city.
Police did not offer a motive, but Reyes had been the Chief of the National Police in the Atlantic coast department of Atlantida, a position he assumed in August 2012, after the previous leadership was removed following a scandal involving extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by the local anti-kidnapping police.
At the time of his death, Reyes was also suspended because of an investigation that police cryptically explained to the media was "related to the process of validating our actions." No further details of that investigation were provided.
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Reyes' murder is yet another reminder of the serious security challenges facing the Honduran authorities and lent a hollow ring to President Porfirio Lobo's comments that security has improved in Honduras, which he made the following day.
"Everyone feels that it has gotten better," Lobo said.
This seems to be supported by the comparatively low perception of insecurity in the country for last year, but not by public confidence in police, which is the lowest in the region, according to Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project. Indeed, some 40 percent of the police force are believed to have ties to organized crime, according to one Honduran politician.
Lobo's claims also come prior to the release of homicide statistics for 2012, despite similar figures already being released in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala. Based on 2011's numbers, Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world, something it is unlikely to shed for 2012.
Contributing to the security crisis is a corrupt and chaotic penitentiary system. The day of Reyes' murder, the government extended an emergency decree by 12 months that declares nine of the country’s 24 prisons to be in a state of crisis. The decree is designed to improve the infrastructure, security and human rights situation in the prisons but, according to El Heraldo, has had little success due to insufficient resources. This will be the third time the decree has been extended.