TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Homicides have declined 30 percent in Honduras, according to the most recent government data, announced last week by President Juan Orlando Hernández.
Hernández also gave an update on Operation Arpía 2, wherein 384 prisoners were transferred from various penitentiaries to El Pozo, which will house Honduras's most dangerous prisoners.
Operation Arpía is the highest-impact operation undertaken in Latin America. Earlier this year, authorities transferred 755 detainees who were members of two enemy criminal gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Pandilla 18. Under Operations Arpía 1 and 2, one-third of the prison population at San Pedro Sula has been relocated.
The operations also yielded a 45 percent reduction in extortion crimes, the seventh-most common reason for incarceration in Honduras.
President Hernández attributed the reduction in crime to reforms passed by Honduras's National Congress last February, the prisoner transfer program, and the Government's law enforcement efforts, especially those of judicial officials, the National Anti-Extortion Force, and the National Inter-Agency Security Force (Fusina).
In 2016, Honduras's homicide rate was 59 per 100,000 residents, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.
"This means that Fusina was correct to propose these reforms, and that Congress did what needed to be done when it passed them," said Hernández.
He added that Arpía 2 "was a successful and noteworthy operation, showing not only our political will but also the Honduran State's new capabilities."
Migration and Security
Hernández said that Central America, particularly Honduras, continues to be important to U.S. interests.
"I want to share what, to me, is an important element of the United States' immigration policy, the subject of security; how the Trump Administration sees this subject; and what Honduras and the Central American and Mesoamerican region mean for the security of the United States," he said.
He referred to a speech U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly recently gave at George Washington University. "He clearly identified there how the new U.S. Administration sees the subject of security and immigration," said Hernández.
Kelly said, "But it's not enough to tackle the problems here at home . . . Border security starts 1,500 miles to the south of the United States with incredible partners like Colombia, the Central American countries, and Mexico."
Kelly added, "A stable country needs a strong, accountable government that protects its citizens, upholds the rule of law, and expands economic opportunity for all its people. Without this, countries fail, and their people flee."
When asked about the 30 percent decrease in U.S. assistance to countries in the Central American Northern Triangle, Hernández said, "If we receive assistance, it will be welcomed, but if not, there are things that only we as Hondurans are going to make a priority."
Hernández stated that, in his most recent working trip to Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that President Trump had requested a 30 percent reduction in aid for Central American countries, which some members of Congress supported and others opposed.
In response to this extreme action, Hernández said, "This is a very sovereign decision by the United States."
Support for Law Enforcement Should Continue
Hernández also stated that the establishment of a Tri-National Force -- from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador -- to fight crime was a Honduran initiative, before President Trump was inaugurated.
He highlighted the advancements that Honduras and the region have made in this area and what that means for the United States, given that President Trump promised to combat criminal gangs.
Hernández said that law enforcement operations should be executed jointly, with mutual assistance among all affected countries, including the United States. "United, we are stronger and more effective," he said.
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SOURCE Republic of Honduras