Honduras: Rival Gangs Announce Truce, Disavow Crime
The two most infamous gangs in Honduras have agreed to put aside violence and crime in a deal brokered by a Roman Catholic Bishop, the BBC reported on Tuesday. Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 Street agreed to commit no violence or crime in return for “forgiveness” from the government and certain concessions.
The announcement was supported by Honduran president Porfiro Lobo, who said the government was open to “any process that can lower violence,” the BBC reported.
Roman Catholic Bishop Romulo Emiliani, who helped craft the agreement, said that gang members needed support from the government if the truce was to be successful, and a spokesperson for one of the gangs pressed the government to provide training and education so that gang members could find legitimate alternatives to their illegal lifestyle, the BBC reported. The bishop also recommended restructuring the nation’s prison rehabilitation program.
There is no guarantee that the agreement will hold, or that either gang has any real intention of standing by their statements. Honduras has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, 86 for every 100,000 residents, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011 Global Study on Homicide. San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city, was ranked the most violent city in the world in both 2011 and 2012, with 169 homicides for every 100,000 residents.
The situation became so dire in the country that the Peace Corps suspended its program in January 2012 to reevaluate the safety of its volunteers.
A similar truce between gangs signed in El Salvador one year ago has largely held together. Authorities say homicides have dropped by over 50 percent, the BBC reported.