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Archaeologists unearth artifacts from ancient civilization in Honduras
13 January 2016 - A clay tray featuring the head of a jaguar and pottery with handles resembling a vulture were among the treasures from an ancient civilization found by archaeologists in Honduras. President Juan Orlando Hernandez visited the site of what is thought to be the mythical White City or 'City of the Monkey God' buried in the dense jungle of Mosquitia in eastern Honduras. (more)

Honduras grants Indians title to coastal lands
12 September 2013 - The government announced Thursday that it has granted title to more than 1.6 million acres (655,000 hectares) along Honduras' border with Nicaragua and the Caribbean coast to the Miskito Indian communities that inhabit the area. The land lies in Honduras' northeastern corner, an area known as the Cape of Gracias A Dios. The government already awarded Miskito Indians title to an additional 265,000 acres (107,000 hectares) over the last year. (more)

Honduran gangs to announce truce to cut violence
25 May 2013 - Honduras' two largest and most-violent gangs will sign a truce next week and ask for a dialogue with the government and police to help them start leaving their gang lifestyle, a Roman Catholic bishop said Friday. San Pedro Sula's bishop, Romulo Emiliani, told The Associated Press that the Mara Salavatrucha and 18th Street gangs will begin their truce on Tuesday. Honduras is following the example of El Salvador, where leaders of the same gangs agreed last year to a truce that sharply lowered the number of violent deaths. According to reports from public security authorities, during the 14-month truce homicides have dropped about 52 per cent. (more)

Honduras: Indigenous cooperatives cultivate success
8 December 2011 - Thanks to the quality and freshness of their produce, indigenous Lenca farmers in western Honduras are regular suppliers of seven supermarket chains. This year they won the National Environmental Prize, in the community initiatives category. Part of the prize money, 4,500 dollars, was divided up among the members of the cooperative, part was invested in production, and part went towards creating a small fund for educational scholarships. (more)

With Spanish technology, Honduras wins the wind
6 October 2011 - Honduras became the top producer of wind energy in Central America last week when the 102-megawatt Cerro de Hula wind farm went online, several months ahead of schedule. The farm boasts 51 wind turbines sprawling across 4.7 square miles on two hills, named Hula and Izopo, 15 miles south of Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa. (more)

Honduras seeks to stop smoking
22 February 2011 - A new law took effect Monday banning smoking in most public and private spaces in the Central American country of Honduras. A programme manager at the World Health Organization's Tobacco-Free Initiative praised Honduras for adopting a broad anti-smoking law. (more)

Honduran rivals agree a deal to end crisis
30 October 2009 - Honduras' de facto government has accepted a US-driven deal that opens the door for the return to power of President Manuel Zelaya, toppled in a military coup four months ago. De facto leader Roberto Micheletti, who took over the country within hours of Zelaya's ouster, had repeatedly refused to step aside to let the leftist return, but he softened his position on Thursday. (more)

Signs of thaw in Honduras standoff
3 October 2009 - Two rival factions fighting for control of Honduras have begun talking days before a meeting that many hope will end a political crisis sparked by Central America's first coup in more than a decade. An Organization of American (OAS) special envoy said both sides have already expressed a willingness to start talks next week. (more)

Honduras rivals agree more talks to pursue solution
11 July 2009 - The rivals for power in Honduras agreed on Friday to hold more talks to seek a solution to the crisis created by last month's coup, keeping alive hopes that dialogue would prevail over confrontation. The talks' mediator, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, made the announcement after chairing a first round of discussions between teams representing ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the man put in his place by the 28 June coup, Roberto Micheletti. Arias told reporters in the Costa Rican capital San Jose the date for the next meeting would be set in coming days. (more)

Honduras' new president promises to end government corruption, help poor
27 January 2006 - Manuel Zelaya was inaugurated today as Honduras' new president with promises to fight government corruption, help the poor, rehabilitate criminals, and help gang members become useful citizens. Zelaya also said that he would help small businesses, improve agricultural production, and create 400,000 jobs in four years in Honduras. (more)


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Why is Honduras the world's deadliest country for environmentalists?
7 April 2016 - Honduras now has the highest murder rate for environmental activists in the world, and conflict over land rights is the primary driver. Rampant inequality, a weak judicial system, cozy relationships between political and business elites, and near total impunity for crimes against human rights defenders have contributed to 101 murders of environmental activists between 2010 and 2014, according to the British NGO Global Witness. It's an upward trend: there were three times as many killings in 2012 as a decade earlier, and 2015 is likely to be the deadliest year on record for environmental defenders in Honduras, according to Billy Kyte, author of a 2015 report by Global Witness spotlighting the dangers faced by activists. 'The environment is the new battleground for human rights, and disputes over land form the backdrop to almost all the killings,' says Kyte. The Global North's 'rapacious demand' for natural resources is fueling conflict on indigenous lands throughout the developing world, says Kyte. But in Honduras, corruption, organized crime, political instability, and increasingly militarized policing have created a particularly acute crisis. (more)

After US deportation, Honduran families face a bleak and uncertain fate
18 July 2014 - A Mother and daughter, who had fled rampant violence in the Honduran city of Tegucigalpa, were caught crossing int the US, held at a detention centre, and returned to a situation even more precarious than the one they had left. Their story is emblematic of a wider problem that has been little reported: threats, debts. and despair often lie in wait for migrants deported back to violence-racked Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Deported migrants often become targets of the gangs they tried to escape, and their jobs prospects are grim. They face stigmatization upon return, being lumped in with people deported for more serious offenses than crossing the border illegally. Many of the young Hondurans flocking to the border are fleeing gangs like 'Calle 18' and 'Mara Salvatrucha' formed in the 1980s in the United States by Central American migrants. 'Some of the teenagers who were being recruited by gangs and narcotraficantes are now back in the crosshairs of those people who were wanting to recruit them and maybe now they'll get penalized for having tried to leave,' said Luis Zayas, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. (more)

Official says gangs in 40 per cent of Honduras
31 July 2013 - Honduran gangs have expanded in the last decade and are now in 40 per cent of the Central American country's territory, with gang members increasingly targeting people in the middle class, an official said Wednesday. Special prosecutor for common crime Kenia Reconco said gangs first began extorting money and killing residents of the working class neighborhoods where the gang members lived but as they grew they began targeting the middle class. 'In 10 years, these criminals have grown because they initially dominated slums, and now they are targeting sectors of the middle class,' Reconco told HRN Radio in an interview. Reconco said gangs are extorting money from middle class homeowners to allow them to live in those homes, calling it a 'new and frightening' crime. Residents have emptied out whole neighbourhoods to avoid paying extortion, which has led many Hondurans to change the way they live, she said. Official estimates say gang members obtain about $50 million from extorting thousands of taxi drivers, workers, teachers, professionals, entrepreneurs and many others. At least 17,000 small businesses closed in 2012 because they were being extorted, according to the government. (more)

Honduran criminals missing after arrest
13 May 2013 - At least five times in the last few months, members of a Honduras street gang were killed or went missing just after run-ins with the US-supported national police, The Associated Press has determined, feeding accusations that they were victims of federal death squads. In a country with the highest homicide rate in the world and where only a fraction of crimes are prosecuted, the victims' families say the police are literally getting away with murder. In the last two years, the United States has given an estimated $30 million in aid to Honduran law enforcement. The US State Department says it faces a dilemma: The police are essential to fighting crime in a country that has become a haven for drug-runners. It estimates that 40 per cent of the cocaine headed to the US -- and 87 per cent of cocaine smuggling flights from South America -- pass through Honduras. 'The option is that if we don't work with the police, we have to work with the armed forces, which almost everyone accepts to be worse than the police in terms of ... taking matters in their own hands,' US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield told the AP via live chat on 28 March. 'Although the national police may have its defects at the moment, it is the lesser evil.' (more)

Little change in Honduras prison where 362 died
13 February 2013 - A year after a fire swept through the prison of Comayagua, killing 362 inmates, the investigation remains open and prosecutors have filed no charges. The burned cells and electrical system are still being repaired. While the government created a new agency told to replace the police in the prisons with specially trained guards, social workers, and doctors, the three-person commission that started working last week was given no budget and has no office, according to its director, Agusto Avila. Even the inmate who was the hero of the fire, finding keys and freeing hundreds of men, was never pardoned as President Porfirio Lobo had promised. Dani Rodriguez, a police inspector, was named director of Comayagua prison on 15 February, a day after the fire. He has not been able to change much. The national budget allocated around $15 million to the prison system for 2013. About 85 per cent goes to pay salaries for prison officials and guards, according to the Security Department. Honduran prisons receive the rest of their funding from taxes that inmates pay from the work they do inside. (more)

Flailing Honduras in yet another political crisis
14 December 2012 - Members of the ruling party met behind closed doors, bartering all night for votes to depose four Supreme Court justices who had rejected the president's plan to weed out corrupt police. Ominously, soldiers and police surrounded the National Congress. As the hours ticked by, representatives inside puffed on cigarettes in violation of their own anti-smoking laws and jokingly accused each other of vote-buying. Then shortly before dawn Wednesday, President Porfirio Lobo's National Party overwhelmingly and, many say illegally, approved the judges' dismissal. On global rosters of failing states, Honduras doesn't even crack the top 50, yet by many grim measures the troubled Central American republic is barely clinging to its status as a functioning country. Three years after former President Manuel Zelaya was run out of office at gunpoint in his pajamas, Lobo is struggling. He has twice warned that his enemies are conspiring to oust him in a coup, and he then provoked a constitutional crisis with the judges' removal, an act that legal scholars describe as everything from an abuse of power to a betrayal of the country. Political turmoil is but the latest trouble bedeviling Honduras. Even in the best of times, Lobo's government, police, and military control only about two-thirds of the country. In at least three states, drug gangs rule the highways and clandestine airstrips, with firepower greater than law enforcement's. (more)

Thousands of evicted Honduran farmworkers occupy land in protest
18 April 2012 - Several thousand farmworkers occupied 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of land across Honduras as part of a dispute with large landowners and the government, activists and officials said Wednesday. Police and soldiers read an eviction notice later in the day and roughly 1,500 farmworkers peacefully left a large sugar plantation near San Pedro Sula. But at least 10 other farms were still occupied Wednesday night, said Mabel Marquez, spokeswoman for activist group Via Campesina. Activists say the seized territory is arable public land that small farmers have the legal right to grow crops under Honduran law. The large landowners who have been farming the land say they bought it legally from the government. A land dispute between small farmers and landlords in the northern Aguan Valley has led to dozens of deaths among farmworkers in recent years. (more)

San Pedro Sula's violence mirrors Honduras' pain
9 April 2012 - Honduras is among the most dangerous places on Earth. No other country matches its rate of 86 slayings per 100,000 inhabitants a year, according to a 2011 United Nations Report. That is roughly 20 times the US homicide rate. And it's worse in San Pedro Sula, often cited as Honduras' most violent city, with a murder rate almost double the national average. In this Wild West city, gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, operate with impunity. MS-13 was born in the 1980s among Central American-born inmates in the prisons of California and spread to Central America when members were deported back home by the US. They found fertile ground in Honduras and other countries with underfunded police forces and corrupt officials. Hondurans say gangs have imposed an almost unchallenged reign of extortion, murder, and drug trafficking on this city and others. San Pedro Sula is threatened by violence that authorities cannot control. And the city's location near Honduras' Atlantic coast and border with Guatemala have put it on key international drug trafficking routes. (more)

More than 300 killed in Honduras prison fire
15 February 2012 - A fire started by an inmate tore through a severely overcrowded Honduran prison, burning and suffocating inmates in their locked cells and killing as many as 356 people in one of the world's deadliest prison fires in a century, authorities said Wednesday. Honduras has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime, and its overcrowded and dilapidated prisons have been hit by a string of deadly riots and fires in recent years. Officials have repeatedly pledged to improve conditions, only to say they don't have sufficient funds. According to government statistics, the Comayagua prison was built in the 1940s for 400 people but held more than 800 prisoners watched over by about 100 guards. Honduras has 24 prisons, 23 for men or both genders, and one exclusively for women. In December, the total prison population was 11,846 of which 411 were women. (more)

Peace Corps pullout a new blow to Honduras
18 January 2012 - The US government's decision to pull out all its Peace Corps volunteers from Honduras for safety reasons is yet another blow to a nation still battered by a coup and recently labelled the world's most deadly country. It is the first time Peace Corps missions have been withdrawn from Central America since civil wars swept the region in the 1970s and 1980s. But the wave of violence and drug cartel-related crime hitting the Central American country had affected volunteers working on HIV prevention, water sanitation, and youth projects, President Porfirio Lobo acknowledged. The US also announced it had suspended some training for new volunteers in El Salvador and Guatemala. The three countries make up the so-called northern triangle of Central America, a region plagued by drug trafficking and gang violence. El Salvador has the second highest homicide rate with 66 killings per 100,000 inhabitants. (more)

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