Images of Displacement in Honduras’ Most Violent City

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It’s Honduras’ industrial capital and second most important city. Nevertheless, national and international organizations say it’s among the most violent places in the world. 

This is San Pedro Sula, population 800,000, of which 150,000 live in the district of Rivera Hernandez, made up of 39 neighborhoods that are almost totally being held hostage by organized crime.

There are six gangs that operate there, dedicated to drug trafficking, extortion, assassinations, car theft, illegal gun sales, and assaults, a situation that has caused the displacement of many inhabitants. Some move to one city or another, others migrate to neighboring countries, and the grand majority try to travel without documents to the US, in hope that authorities will grant them refugee status.

This article originally appeared in Revistazo and was translated, edited, and reprinted with permission. See Spanish original here.

There have been several cases of families who have unexpectedly had to take refuge in police stations while moving out of their homes. Experts on security and other social issues agree that there are places in Honduras where people live as though the country were in a permanent state of war.

The displacement of people results in many abandoned homes. Gang members take them over, and with time, these houses that were built with so much effort lose their value, due to the theft of roofs, balconies, doors, and other utilities. Abandoned schools and malls meet the same fate.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Displacement

The insecurity that marks communities like Rivera Hernandez allows gangs to extort, threat, and even kill those who refuse to join, as happened in July 2014 with a 13-year-old girl, Andrea Abigail Argeñal Martinez, found dead 15 days after having been kidnapped by alleged MS13 members.

The girl’s remains had been buried in the patio of an abandoned house in the neighborhood of Sinai in Rivera Hernandez. Authorities are investigating Victor Manuel Pavon Prieto (age 19) and Luis Gerardo Hernandez Fuentes (age 18), alleged gang members who were captured by police soon after the girl’s body was found. They allegedly formed part of a local gang known as the Tercereños.

The photo slideshow below offers a glimpse of how displacement and violence have affected this area in San Pedro Sula.

{module San Pedro Sula Isolated }

*This article was translated, edited, and reprinted with permission from Revistazo. See Spanish original here.

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