Honduras Uses Security Tax to Send Army to City Streets

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The Honduran government launched a second operation to put troops on the streets of its most violent cities, paid for using funds from a newly imposed security tax.

On February 8, the government deployed the military in the two cities worst affected by the country’s violence, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said that there would be patrols 24 hours a day under “Operation Libertad,” which is intended to cut the cities’ high crime rate.

Some 600 soldiers were deployed in Tegucigalpa, rising to 800 over the weekend, while 400 were sent out in San Pedro Sula, rising to 500 over the weekend, reported La Prensa.

Soldiers and police are operating under a combined command for the joint operation. The police, however, remain in charge of security in Tegucigalpa’s twin city, Comyaguela. Roadblocks have been set up in other provinces of the country.

The chief of the armed forces, Rene Osorio Canales, said that the operation would continue for the rest of the year, while President Lobo explained that it was being paid for by the new security tax, reported Proceso Digital.

Despite the operation, 13 people were killed in Honduras’ capital over the weekend, according to El Heraldo.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is the second time that the Porfirio Lobo government has deployed troops for domestic security. In November 2011, the armed forces were sent to troubled regions across the country under Operation Relampago (Lightning).

The latest operation follows reports that gangs were imposing a curfew on some communities in Comyaguela.

The security tax used to pay for the measure was approved in approved in 2011 and has been levied on companies to help fund the country’s security forces. However by December 2012, it had only brought in about half the expected revenue — at some $39 million, according to reports.

In January this year, the funds from the security tax were put under the control of the National Defense and Security Council, and thereby under the control of the president. The same month, the government admitted that public security cameras in Tegucigalpa would have to be turned off, as the government could not pay an outstanding debt to the firm that runs them.

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