With all the talk of murdered journalists and lawyers in Honduras, it might be worthwhile to review the situation and atmosphere in which these killings take place.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. The national average is 86 people killed per 100,000. In some cities it is higher. Tegucigalpa is at 76 per 100,000; La Ceiba is at 200/100,000 and San Pedro Sula is at 178/100,000.
Now compare that to the highest U.S. murder rate: New Orleans with 58/100,000.
The U.S. average is about 5/100,000.
For the people and government of New Orleans the numbers are too high. They are stepping up and trying to do something to attack the problem.
New Orleans, however, has a lot going for it. It has a national government that wants to fight crime and corruption. It has a population that wants to stop these crimes and it has a people who firmly believe in the rule of law. But what it really has is a government and population that has not given up.
Unfortunately for Honduras, the national government is hamstrung by lack of funds for proper training, growing corruption among the police thanks the the narcos and — among some — an apparent unwillingness to address the issue straight on.
Likewise, the people of Honduras seem to have resigned themselves to corrupt and ineffective police. And rule of law has never been a strong point in Honduras or in most of Latin America, for that matter.
While this despair is not universal — there are a number of people in and out of the Honduran government who want to build a safe society — the numbers are overwhelming. The people who want to do right by Honduras are getting little support from the general population.
While some journalists and lawyers are killed because of their work to stop corruption and stand up to the narcos, not all are. Some are innocent victims — like so many other in Honduras — of a society that seems to have given up on itself.
When U.S. reporters cover the murders of journalists, lawyers and every day folks in Honduras, it might be useful for them to place the murders into context. To look at many of the underlining issues that are causing the problems in Honduras. (HINT: Everything was not sweetness and light before the 2009 coup. But, yes, things have gotten worse.) Maybe look at what steps are being taken to help build a civil society. And where help for those steps is coming from. (HINT: It is not only from the US.)