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Like many other countries in the world, Honduras is one of the countries which have witnessed several revolts and military ruling from the time it gained its independence in 1838. Although the country witnessed a peaceful political transition towards the end of the 20th century, the country is faced with countless challenges ranging from political to socials across economic struggles. Its poverty levels hit the peak in 1998 when the country faced a Hurricane Mitch which destroyed massive property and affected more than 80 percent of the population. This natural disaster caused unemployment along coastal regions destroying agricultural plantations like bananas and rendered most cultivated land useless. All these resulted into exponential increase in crime to levels which shocked the world (Honduras Country Specific Information). Among the criminal activities prevalent in the history of Honduras is drug trafficking. This essay focuses on the history of crime, its connection with drug trafficking and political role in drug trafficking and other related crimes.
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The main cause of crime increase in Honduras has always been attributed to high poverty levels. Many people consider criminal activities and drug trafficking as the simplest ways of gaining wealth and meeting their daily family needs. For many years, the country has been considered as a transit zone for cocaine from southern part of America to the United Sates. Many Honduran organizations participating in smuggling of cocaine primarily use maritime trafficking method. Drugs are transported over land through the country from Panama to Mexico before they are further shipped to the United States (Drug Intelligence Brief).
These drugs are secretly carried using passenger vehicles before being delivered to target stations. There are various factors which augment drug trafficking in Honduras, some of which make it difficult to implement and enforce drug laws. Poor economic level of the country is a major factor with industrial sector unable to meet employment and production demand of the population. Additionally, the country has a poor road network making most parts of the country inaccessible. With the effects of the Hurricane still being felt today, the country has a poor communication system causing disconnection of some parts of the country.
On the other hand, cannabis is the only illegal crop grown in Honduras on small scale for domestic use. It has also been noted that this cannabis is of low quality. Cannabis farms are scattered in most parts of the country either hidden in mountain terrain or coastal regions. Year-round growing of the crop is promoted by a reliable climate. Although the governments of Honduras have always worked together in destroying cannabis, its cultivation still continues.
Seizing of drugs has always indicated increase in drug trafficking. The 2000 seizure revealed that most Columbian drug trafficking bodies were using small planes to facilitate transport of drugs to Honduras. This new adoption is meant to make the process more easily and faster compared to the use of rod transport alone. It is important to note that although the use of illicit drugs in estimates is not recorded, the trend is gaining dominance in most parts of the country. Research has indicated that alcohol and inhalants are the most abused substances in the country with a small number of Hondurans using marijuana and cocaine.
Is there any relationship between money laundering and drug trafficking in Honduras? Although the country is not a center for money laundering, related crimes like kidnapping, corruption, auto theft among others are common. Many drug traffickers have invested their illicit money in businesses including real estate some of which is used to fund drug smuggling deals. According to the Honduran law, laundering of drug related is criminal with difficulty in prosecution. Ever since the war on drug trafficking began in Honduras, there has never been a single successful prosecution, a sign that the war is far from being warn (Drug Intelligence Brief). There are plans to redefine money laundering law to fully cover drug-related money laundering.
Is there any relationship between drug trafficking and Honduran politics? Discussions surrounding this topic have linked politics to major criminal activities in Honduras some of which have threatened the sovereignty of the nation. Many political influential leaders have been involved in smuggling of drugs and supported the use of drugs. Exchange of drugs for important imports is always seen as a way of salvaging the economy of the nation. This involvement of politicians in drug trafficking continue to hinder efforts to completely deal with drug related crimes. Prosecuting of law makers faces many countries in world whose political leaders take advantage of their positions to push their political ambitions.
The former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya is among Honduras' prominent personality to be implicated in drug trafficking. Criminal investigations indicated the involvement of the ex president in criminal activities with help from international investigation like Interpol. As a result, a formal request for Zelaya together with his closest allies was issued after the coup in 2009 (Nacla & Kozloff, 2010). The investigation further revealed that the former president's administration had participated in drug trafficking. Although the warrant arrest was never granted by Interpol, drug trafficking links played a pivotal role in bringing down president Zelaya. There was enough proof that that Venezuelan planes loaded with cocaine and packed money were landing in Honduras with the knowledge of the government. Many government officials reported a surge in the number of foreign planes which landed in Honduras after the coup indicating that the former president and his administration played a pivotal role in promoting drug trafficking and money laundry.
The question on whether or not the former president was involved in drug trafficking remains a controversial issue. However, Manuel Zelaya called for the legalization of the use of drugs during a (UNDC) conference which brought together 31 Caribbean nations and Latin American (Kamminga & Marcy, 2010). He supported the move to decriminalize drug use as a way of freeing Honduras from the financial burden it was facing. The president's comments implied his full support for drug use. It is clear that drugs and crime is a significant issue which has played a major role in shaping both political and social course of Hondurans.
There are many factors which have led to escalation of drug use and related crimes in the nation with more weight being given to poverty and the 1998 hurricane which affected over 80% of the population. The role of politics cannot however be forgotten. With President Manuel Zelaya in power, dealing with these crimes was not easy because of his stand which seemed to support drug use.