Refugees are leaving Honduras not only because they fear gang violence, but because they are terrified of the brutal government. Human rights groups have documented Honduras under president Juan Orlando Hernández as a place where “impunity for crime and human rights abuses is the norm.”
An investigation by Global Witness concluded that Honduras has become the deadliest country in the world for environmental activists, writing in 2017, “Nowhere are you more likely to be killed for standing up to companies that grab land and trash the environment than in Honduras.” Even the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has gone so far as to label Honduras a country where “corruption is the operating system” and “repression is carefully targeted for maximum psychological effect.”
Honduras has received more than $70 million in security assistance from the US since Hernandez’s corrupt election in 2014, according to data collected by the Center for International Policy.
As news of ‘migrant caravans’ are being used to stoke fears of some impending invasion of the United States. Interviews in Honduras with human rights and environmental activists, lawyers, opposition leaders, citizens in hiding, and friends and family of those who have disappeared or been assassinated tell a story of why people leave.
In the last nine years, Honduras has become a kleptocracy, where politicians, business elites, and organized crime oversee a system of governance predicated on corruption and violence in order to terrorize their opponents and enrich themselves. It is a corrupt system of rule that is at every turn supported and enabled by the US government.