The Honduran human rights commissioner called the country a “nest” of drug trafficking and narco-politics, one of the bluntest public statements yet issued by a government official about Honduras’ struggles with organized crime.
Commissioner Ramon Custodio’s remarks appeared in a statement about the need for police reform released by Honduras’ national human rights body Conadeh.
Custodio is quoted directly several times in the press release, at one point stating that “nothing in the world” can stop Honduras from purging its police force of corrupt elements. He said that the need for police reform is so urgent, because reform efforts are “touching the interests that have made Honduras what it never should have been, the nest of drug trafficking, the nest of drug politics, absolute impunity for corruption, and we want to correct those things.”
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Custodio’s comments may have been prompted by the recent announcement that a portion of the $56 million in US security aid allocated for Honduras cannot be handled by controversial national police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla, or any of his subordinates, until Bonilla has been fully investigated for alleged human rights violations.
Bonilla’s appointment was initially presented as a crucial part of Honduras’ efforts to clean up its police force. Though the new police chief has been accused of running a death squad, Custodio praised Bonilla’s promotion, callling it “the best message” that Honduras could give its citizens, as InSight Crime reported at the time. Custodio also once described Bonilla as a “brave and honest official.”
By issuing such a frank assessment of Honduras’ very real struggles with drug trafficking, not only did Custodio make headlines, but he also may be implying that because Honduras’ security situation is so critical, it is all the more necessary to push through with police reform at whatever cost. But nothing in his statement directly addresses what the government plans to do with Bonilla, if the issue of police reform is so urgent.